BlackBerry has launched its first ever touchscreen-only Android handset in what could be a last-ditch attempt to keep a hand in the smartphone market.
Last year saw the launch of the Priv, the first of its handsets to work on the Android operating system, but it failed to make an impact on a market dominated by Apple and Samsung – the SIM-only handset price of £569 didn’t help either.
So will the Dtek50 succeed where both the Priv and the Z10 failed?
What is the BlackBerry Dtek50?
The Dtek50 handset will run on the Android operating system as BlackBerry looks to phase out the BB10 operating system but, unlike the Priv, it won’t be a premium handset – it shares its the design with the Idol 4S – a handset produced by Alcatel, a Chinese-owned rival.
This is a low-cost and low-risk way of producing a new handset, and suggests the Priv will continue as BlackBerry’s top offering and this will be one of possibly a number of other devices in the stable.
What’s the USP?
The new handset will be based on an existing one and won’t come with BlackBerry’s famous physical keypad – so what can this phone offer that other’s can’t?
Greater security, according to the boffins at Blackberry, who insist the phone has unique internal hardware, with chips protected by cryptographic keys to prevent tampering and stump hackers.
And it’ll also be more affordable than the Priv handset, so that could be a selling point.
Could the Dtek50 be Blackberry’s final handset?
If this handset doesn’t take off, it could well be one BlackBerry’s final forays into the smartphone hardware market if it decides to put all of its efforts into it hugely successful software business.
The majority of the company’s revenue comes from software it licences to other companies and governments, including enterprise server products, which let companies manage the smartphones they give to employees.
And John Chen, the boss of BlackBerry, has asserted the business will not continue to produce phone hardware if it became unsustainable.
While BlackBerry’s software business is booming, this end of the industry doesn’t grab the headlines like handsets do and so while it continues to struggle in this market, it will always appear to be an ailing business until it either hits the jackpot or takes itself out of the frame.
So it appears the biggest struggle faced by BlackBerry is one of perception.