BlackBerry Plans to Run Android on Its New Smartphone

BlackBerry Might Make an Android PhoneBlackBerry Limited (TSX:BB, NASDAQ:BBRY) could be equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) “Android” software for the first time. This is an acknowledgement that the company’s revamped line of handsets has failed to win consumer appeal.

According to several sources, the Waterloo, Canada-based smartphone maker is thinking about running Google’s Android operating system on its upcoming smartphone for the first time. (Source: Reuters, June 11, 2015.) The sources asked not to be named as they have not been authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Both BlackBerry and Google refused to comment.

The move would be a big change in BlackBerry’s strategy. In the past, the company has always been using its own operating system—the “BlackBerry OS,” hoping that its newer products with the BlackBerry 10 operating system would help regain some of the market share that was lost to smartphones running “iOS” or Android platforms.

One advantage of moving to the Android platform is the amount of applications that are already available. With only one percent of the market, BlackBerry’s proprietary operating system has been having a hard time getting big name apps.

The source said that using the Android platform is in line with the company’s strategy to focus on software and device management. Last year, BlackBerry unveiled “BES 12,” its new device management system. The system would allow corporate and government clients to manage devices on their internal networks. The devices don’t have to be from BlackBerry; BES12 works with Android, iOS, and the “Windows Phone” as well.

In the short term, the company will likely bear significant switching costs. It also needs to make sure that after switching to Android, its faithful users will not switch to other Android-powered smartphones.