It's early yet, but BlackBerry's first Android phone just might be in demand. That's the message I got when I heard the BlackBerry Priv is now available in three new countries and is coming to a trio of major U.S. carriers.
So far, the Priv has been an AT&T exclusive in the U.S. I doubt that's been good for BlackBerry - or consumers that aren't AT&T customers - because it limits the potential buying audience.
That's changing this month though: T-Mobile will begin selling the handset with sliding keyboard on January 26. BlackBerry has also confirmed on Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show that Verizon and Sprint will also carry the Android phone.
In addition to the U.S. availability expansion, BlackBerry today announced the Priv can be purchased in The Netherlands, Italy and Spain directly from BlackBerry's website in those countries.
The measured roll-out for the BlackBerry Priv is a smart strategy. BlackBerry knows that it can't overproduce a phone and have millions of dollars in unsold inventory on hand. And the company is also wise enough to realize sales of the Priv won't rival those of Apple, Samsung and others.
But that's OK.
Last year, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the company can turn a profit on as little as 5 million handsets a year. If it can meet that goal, BlackBerry's hardware days may not be numbered after all.
Likely helping drive any demand for the Priv (in addition to wider availability) is the hardware keyboard for those that prefer it, as well as monthly security updates for Android and a more secure platform to begin with; something not all of Google's hardware partners can claim.