Thursday, 4 February 2016

Blackberry Priv: Will Android be enough to keep the brand afloat?

Just when you wrote it off for good, seems like Blackberry is back from the grave and putting up its final struggle with what little breath it has left.

It's a cliché to regard any new Blackberry launch these days as the "last throw of the dice".

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After almost four years of banging the BlackBerry 10 drum, it seems the Canadian firm has finally admitted defeat, launching its first Android smartphone -riding on the success of a rival platform when the company’s own popularity has faded.

It's not entirely a surprise - the Priv was rumoured for months under the codename Venice, and a move to the Android platform makes sense. BlackBerry 10 suffered from a severe lack of top flight applications and an interface which wasn't quite as intuitive for the general public as the now familiar Android and iOS.

First shown off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the BlackBerry Priv — Priv standing for Privacy and Privilege — is a new BlackBerry device, featuring a slide-out portrait keyboard and running Google's Android OS (in this case 5.1.1 Lollipop) — the first device from BlackBerry to do so.

Prior to introducing the hybrid device, CEO John Chen labelled it as the deciding factor for either a full-house or a no-show for BlackBerry: If the BlackBerry Priv sales figures achieve the 5 million unit sales benchmark - BlackBerry stays in the smartphone market and if it doesn’t, then the company ceases to make more phones.

The BlackBerry story:
If one looks at the history of BlackBerry, the company once enjoyed the status of being the handset of choice across enterprises; but as the competition stiffened with rivals like Samsung and Apple(with vast app stores and big screens), BlackBerry started to gradually lose its share in the phone market and kept on posting repeated losses. Its story isn’t all that foreign. Isn’t it quite similar to what happened to Nokia, one of the biggest tech  giants which took a drastic fall due to its reluctance to incorporate any innovation in their products (when Android was slowly gaining pace) and having a blind faith solely on their brand name?

BlackBerry went through the same thing, with only a slight change. Although, Nokia was somewhat able to redeem itself (all thanks to Microsoft); Blackberry was never able to rise from the ashes. Although it did come up with a new product now and then, and manage to turn a few heads, per se, none of the products ever garnered enough interest to bring it back to its former glory.The firm, once known as Research in Motion, has had one glimmer of hope in recent times: Blackberry Messenger was unexpectedly popular with teenagers, but even BBM eventually lost out to WhatsApp and Snapchat. Blackberry sales now account for less than 1% of the global smartphone market.
Now with the new Blackberry Priv released just a few days back; the fate of Blackberry is yet to be seen.

Here is a quick look at the phone’s features:-
5.4-inch WQHD (2560×1440) display with AMOLED resolution, and is powered by a 1.8 GHz hexacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal memory (expandable by up to 2TB). The single SIM 4G phone runs on Android Lollipop OS and sports 18MP rear and 2MP front camera with 3,410 mAh battery.

BlackBerry has deeply integrated its own services and made a few tweaks to the interface. It has also integrated several security features to make the Priv presumably one of the more secure Android devices available today. Also, it will not let users install third party launchers or apps from unverified sources.

The Verdict is out:-
A new BlackBerry might be able to stir nostalgia among the earlier loyalists of the BlackBerry brand, some of whom have already made the switch to the more popular platforms, but it is hard to predict a switch back to BlackBerry through Priv.

Priv has the potential to plug a big gap in the Android juggernaut, that of devices with good keypad support for those who don’t love typing on a touchscreen.Since a physical input mechanism is the phone's raison d'etre, the keyboard stands up to the expectations.

In the last few years, the new smartphone players, mostly based in China, have quickly carved a niche for themselves in a market with their affordable handsets.In such a situation, a device like the Priv – a BlackBerry product with the Google software - is like 'just another Android phone' with a price tag of Rs 62,990 (which is a deal breaker).

The fact that BlackBerry is trying to win back share with a mass-market device that costs significantly more than its established rivals strikes me as risky, and perhaps overly optimistic.
Has Blackberry finally brought a game-changer to the market or is it is too little & too late?

Article by Rishibha Tuteja
Last minute Blogger, fangirl by profession. A Bibliophile by heart, Tech–Enthusiast by choice.
She breathes dreams like air and can be reached at

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