Report: BlackBerry's Android-powered device to launch in November on all 4 major U.S. carriers

BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) Android phone just got a bit more real. BlackBerry may release a touchscreen phone with a slideout keyboard that runs on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android software in November with the support of all four Tier 1 carriers, according to posts from known and pretty reliable leaker of mobile device details Evan Blass, also known as @evleaks.

In a series of posts and photos Blass made on Twitter, the phone, codenamed "Venice," is shown in renders supporting the Google Play store and BlackBerry's Hub for grouping messages and notifications. A separate photo shows the phone with its keyboard slid out and supporting what looks like a relatively stock version of Android.

In March BlackBerry executives promised the company would release a new phone later this year with a dual-curved screen and slideout keyboard. According to CNET, rumors suggest the phone is powered by a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 808 processor, sports a 5.4-inch QHD LCD screen and comes with 3 GB of RAM. 

If BlackBerry were to get support from all four major U.S. carriers, it would certainly help its sales prospects. Using Android would also give customers access to far more applications than BlackBerry offers, even with its partnership with Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Appstore.

"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 spokeswoman Barbie Tate told FierceWireless

However, in June, while BlackBerry CEO John Chen declined to comment on a Reuters report that the company is thinking of using Android software in an upcoming smartphone for the first time, he did not entirely foreclose the prospect of doing so in the future.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV following BlackBerry's last quarterly earnings announcement, Chen said that BlackBerry has spent a great deal of time making its security solutions work on multiple platforms, including Android. He said it was still "too early to tell" whether BlackBerry could make an Android-based phone secure enough. He declined to comment directly on the Reuters report, but said that BlackBerry is pondering how to make Android more secure.  

"People asked me, will you ever build one?" Chen said. "And I said, well, if I could make it secure, I will, which is a very honest, true statement. We're looking at it. I can't say that it's conclusive at all right now."

Reuters had reported that, according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter, 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.

Despite the progress the company made in its last fiscal quarter in software revenue, which shot up 150 percent to $137 million, BlackBerry's hardware business continues to struggle. Hardware revenue fell to about $263 million, down from $379 million in the year-ago period and BlackBerry recognized revenue on only 1.1 million devices.

Chen said in July BlackBerry will no longer release four phones per year. Instead, he said, the company plans to release only one or two high-end phones per year in order to save costs and focus more on enterprise software and services. Last month BlackBerry also said that it would begin another round of job cuts as part of a wider restructure as it tries to offset weak smartphone sales. The company declined to disclose how many employees will be affected in the latest change, noting only that some were shifted to different roles while others were laid off.

For more:
- see this ZDNet article
- see this CNET article
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Greenbot article 

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