BlackBerry touts security features of new $299 Android phone

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) introduced its second Android-powered handset as the company continues to try to elbow its way back into the smartphone market. But whether there's any real demand for a mid-range device with a focus on a security is far from clear.

The DTEK50 features a 5.2-inch, 1080p display and Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 617 processor, and it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It will sell for $299 and also includes BlackBerry Hub, which is designed to serve as single inbox for email, phone calls, social media and calendar information.

But while the device doesn't offer a physical keyboard, BlackBerry is clearly targeting business users with what the company claims is "the most secure Android smartphone." BlackBerry's DTEK software aims to protect users from malware, the DTEK app enables users to monitor the OS and apps to know when vulnerabilities arise, and the company touted its track record "of being the quickest to deliver security patches."

The once-dominant mobile enterprise vendor said it recently conducted a study of Android smartphone users and found that 50 percent of respondents believe their phone is only somewhat secure, and one in six were unaware of Android security patches.

"With an increase in cybercrime on smartphones, people need to recognize that the private details of their lives -- where they live, their bank info, pictures of their kids -- are at risk on their personal device," said David Kleidermacher, BlackBerry's chief security officer, in a prepared statement. "You wouldn't leave the doors of your house unlocked at night. Having a smartphone that doesn't take your privacy seriously is the equivalent. It's equally important for businesses to protect their sensitive data from cyberattacks at all points of their mobile environment -- from the device to the network and servers."  

The DTEK50 follows the release late last year of the Priv, BlackBerry's first Android-powered device. The Canadian company had hoped to leverage Android's worldwide popularity and vast app ecosystem to regain its footing in the smartphone market, but BlackBerry shipped only 600,000 phones in the first quarter, well below expectations.

CEO John Chen blamed the disappointing first-quarter sales on a saturated market, saying "there's a much more limited audience" for the Priv than the company expected. The DTEK50 may also find a limited audience when it comes to market in two weeks.

For more:
- see this BlackBerry press release

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