BlackBerry's Android Priv smartphone launching on Optus

BlackBerry is launching its first Android-powered smartphone in Australia, with the Priv being made available via Optus.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor on

Embattled smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry has announced that it will be launching its first Android-powered smartphone, the Priv, in Australia on Thursday, to be made available exclusively through Optus.

According to BlackBerry, the Priv combines the Canadian company's security and privacy features with the Android operating system and Google Play apps.

The Priv features a 2,560x1,440 540ppi 5.4-inch dual-curve OLED display; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor; a 3,410mAh battery; Qualcomm SecureMSM technology and Qualcomm Snapdragon StudioAccess content protection; 32GB of storage; expandable storage through micro SD cards for up to 2TB; both touchscreen and physical keyboards; an 18MP rear-facing camera; a "Productivity Tab" along the edge of the screen; and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop.

"While Priv will provide a choice in operating system to new and existing customers, the company remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and will continue to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements," BlackBerry noted.

Its security features include the BlackBerry DTEK Android app, which supervises and provides data on what applications access the user's camera, location, microphone, and personal information; cryptographic keys installed on the hardware during the manufacturing process; thousands of Linux kernel modifications to include patches and configuration changes; tamper-detection keys embedded in every layer, including the OS and applications; and integration with the BlackBerry's secure enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution BES 12.

Last week, BlackBerry unveiled its five new EMM security, productivity, management, and collaboration suites, which it obtained as part of its $425m acquisition of Good Technology in November.

Pricing for United States customers is $3 per user per month for the Good Secure Management Suite; $10 for the Good Secure Collaboration Suite; $15 for the Good Secure Mobility Suite; and $25 for the Good Secure Content Suite.

The EMM software comes with cloud-based or on-premises options, with BlackBerry forecasting the products to add $160 million in revenue during the first year. While it will continue making devices, it expects most of its future growth to come from EMM software.

The acquisition of Good Technology also expanded BlackBerry's enterprise and government customer base by 6,200 customers spanning commercial banks, aerospace, healthcare, defence, manufacturing, and retail companies.

In December, BlackBerry reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $89 million. Its software and services business provided the most momentum for the company, accruing $162 million in revenue, a 183 percent rise year on year.

The company reported cash at $2.71 billion, a decrease of 18 percent from the $3.32 billion in cash reported at the beginning of 2015.

"BlackBerry has a solid financial foundation, and we are executing well," said CEO John Chen.

"To sustain our current direction, we are stepping up investments to drive continued software growth and the additional Priv launches," he said. "I anticipate this will result in sequential revenue growth in our software, hardware and messaging businesses in [the fourth quarter]."

BlackBerry has yet to report on sales of the Priv.

The Priv will be available for Optus Business customers on post-paid plans, with consumers able to buy it outright or on post-paid plans online from Thursday.

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