BlackBerry has played a straight bat following mounting speculation that it is planning to release an Android device. The company has refused to address the issue directly, but did not deny that it is working on an Android-based product.
“We don’t comment on rumours and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched,” the company stated.
The fact that the company has reaffirmed its commitment to BlackBerry 10 is not a surprise, as failing to have done so would have risked significantly reducing sales of existing devices. But there is of course nothing to prevent BlackBerry 10 being supported alongside an Android-based smartphone.
There does seem to be some substance behind the rumours, with respected news agency Reuters stating that four sources have informed them that BlackBerry is considering releasing an Android smartphone.
Such a move would be a big change for the once-mighty tech company, which has prided itself on using its own propitiatory platform.
In its current form, BlackBerry 10 was first released in 2013, following the purchase of OS developer QNX. This was part of a strategy designed to allow BlackBerry to compete directly with Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices, whilst still retaining control of its own platform.
But the plan to reinvent BlackBerry in order to allow the company to compete in the age of the smartphone has largely failed. Instead of BlackBerry eating into the dominance of rivals, it has seen its own share of the smartphone market slip to under one percent.
One option for the company would be to use Android as a base, but heavily customise the operating system in order to closely integrate BlackBerry services. This would be similar to the approach that Amazon has taken with Fire OS, which powers the online retailer’s Kindle tablets and smartphone.
Android could offer BlackBerry a way of reducing development costs whilst at the same time increasing the usage of its own services.