Report: BlackBerry may use Android in upcoming smartphone

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is thinking of using Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android software in an upcoming smartphone for the first time, according to a Reuters report.

The report, citing four unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said the shift to using Android would be part of BlackBerry's ongoing transition to focus on software, device management and security under CEO John Chen. BlackBerry has also pivoted to focus on the Internet of Things and how it can bring its security heritage to bear in that market.  

Further, the report added that if BlackBerry does launch an Android device, it could come with some of the patented features in its BlackBerry 10 platform. The company aims to show that its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 software could securely manage smartphones running other operating systems and convince large customers to adopt BES 12, the report said.

The fate of BlackBerry's existing BlackBerry 10 devices is not known, according to the report.

"We don't comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched," BlackBerry said in a statement to Reuters. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment, the report said.

BlackBerry said in March it would be offering more of its core software and services to larger smartphone platforms, including Android, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows.

With its smartphone business a shadow of its former self, BlackBerry has worked to maintain relevance in a market that has all but written off the company's hardware business. BlackBerry hopes its core competencies around productivity, communications and security will find new life as cross-platform service offerings on competing platforms and devices that consumers are increasingly using for both personal use and enterprise work. 

The BES 12 platform already manages Android, iOS and Windows devices and now the company is expanding a suite of services to devices running on those platforms. The new offering, called the "BlackBerry Experience Suite," will be available later this year.

Despite commanding just 0.3 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter, according to research firm IDC, BlackBerry has not given up on its hardware business. BlackBerry recently introduced a new touchscreen phone, the Leap, and has promised to release a new phone later this year with a dual-curved screen and slide-out keyboard. Reuters reported that Android could be used on that phone.

Last month BlackBerry said it will cut an unspecified number of jobs in its smartphone hardware and software businesses as it continues its turnaround efforts. The company said it has "made the decision to consolidate our device software, hardware and applications business, impacting a number of employees around the world. We know that our employees have worked hard on behalf of our company and we are grateful for their commitment and contributions."

At the same time, BlackBerry is determined to make software a greater part of its sales. The company reported $250 million in software revenue in its last fiscal year and Chen has said the company aims to double that to $500 million in its current fiscal year, though some analysts are skeptical the company can do so.

Chen said at the end of March that the company would achieve "sustainable profitability sometime starting" in its current fiscal year, which runs through the end of March 2016.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article
- see this ZDNet article

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