BlackBerry will debut an Android smartphone with a sliding keyboard and an emphasis on privacy, the company’s CEO confirmed on Friday.
The smartphone, called Priv, is aimed at business customers who just can’t separate themselves from a physical keyboard, but also want the range of apps that come with Google’s Android operating system.
“Priv will be the solution for smartphone users who are learning daily of the lack of privacy they have on their current devices,” John Chen, BlackBerry’s CEO, said in an op-ed posted on CNBC.com. “Priv will be the answer for former BlackBerry users who miss the physical keyboard but needed apps. And, we’re responding to current -– and prospective –- BlackBerry users who need it all: choice, innovation, security, privacy and productivity.”
The Canada-based company has batted back rumors that it would be exiting the phonemaking business since reports last year if its handset portfolio “remains unprofitable.” Chen said his comments at the time “were taken out of context,” and he reiterated on Friday that he believes the company has a strong customer base. Some of BlackBerry’s devices are made by Chinese manufacturer Foxconn under a five-year deal struck at the end of 2013.
“There is continued demand for our flagship BlackBerry 10 devices like BlackBerry Passport and Classic by consumers, enterprises and regulated industries,” Chen said in introducing the Priv on Friday. “They’re not going away.”