A touchscreen BlackBerry with sliding keyboard teased earlier this year may be launched in November on all four major U.S. carriers. And it probably won't be running BlackBerry software. Instead, the BlackBerry Venice is expected to be the company's first Google Android phone.
This isn't the first time we've heard this story.
Reuters reported on the Venice back in June which was followed by a rendered image of the device last month. That picture was leaked by industry insider Evan Blass, who shared a more detailed picture of the Venice on Wednesday, saying to expect a widespread U.S. launch date in November.
Assuming the Venice does indeed look like the detailed image, I don't expect a typing experience akin to a traditional BlackBerry.
The Venice appears to have rectangular chiclet keys with a small amount of travel rather than the standard BlackBerry keyboard. And there don't appear to be any frets between keys like a BlackBerry would normally have.But it still offers a hardware keyboard option for those that prefer one.
Here's another interested tidbit from the render: Google apps are shown on the device.
If that's the case when the Venice actually launches, it would mean this is an official Google Android device and not just one running Android. That's a subtle, but important difference because to get the Google apps and services such as Maps, Google+ and Google Drive, hardware partners have to license them from Google.
With such licensing comes important stipulations. The Google apps have to be front and center for example. Yes, partners can add their own apps and software but the Google ones must be prominently displayed on certain screens.
BlackBerry of course has its own apps for Android, which I'd full expect to be pre-installed on the Venice.
So far, we've only heard that BlackBerry may use Android for this sliding keyboard handset; there hasn't been any official confirmation.
If Blass is correct, however, and the Venice will be available on all four major carriers in November, Android would be a near-certainty to power this device.
Gone are the days where the U.S. network providers put marketing dollars behind a phone running BlackBerry software.
It's generally and iPhone and Android world now, so if BlackBerry wants to sell phones through carriers, just adding a hardware keyboard to a touchscreen device won't cut it. The company will have to use Android if it wants handset sales to rise in a meaningful way.