With an Android smartphone, BlackBerry can target users who value security over all else

BlackBerry has lost a lot. Shipments have declined over 90% since 2007. But it hasn’t lost the trust of enterprises that need solid security.

BlackBerry releasing Android smartphone slider privacy priv security
Credit: BlackBerry

BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed last night during the company's Q2 2016 conference call that it will introduce an Android slider phone called Priv later this year. Its name is based on its focus on protecting users' privacy.

This is a really interesting development because Apple and Google have not been able to unseat BlackBerry in terms of security. With their robust modern user interfaces and wide variety of apps, the iPhone and Android have nearly driven BlackBerry out of business, except in markets that value security. Chen may have found a remedy for BlackBerry's woes – a really secure phone with a modern UI and a ton of apps.

Circle of Trust

The “circle of trust” is the most important discussion point between public and private enterprises and their security vendors. A strong circle of trust is not price-sensitive, and could not only bring growth in unit shipments back to BlackBerry, it could allow for a premium price. The circle of trust means that the source of hardware and software used to assemble a product and the people who assembled it can be verified. It starts with who burned the key into the device, how and where it was done, and ends with the certification of the person delivering the product.

End to End FIPS 140-2

FIPS 140-2 is a comprehensive security standard written by the National Institute of Standards. The OS kernels and encryption algorithms used by BlackBerry, Android, and iOS are all FIPS 140-2 certified. BlackBerry also recently acquired Good Technology, giving it end-to-end messaging compliance for iOS and Android. End-to-end security from a single vendor is a powerful story.

Android plus SE Linux

BlackBerry could open itself to renewed growth after a long decline by making its own distribution of Android. Xiaomi took the Android Open Source Project (OASP) code tree and differentiated the company's phones with an Apple-like hardware look and feel and a UI that looked more like iOS. Xiaomi tripled sales in two years with this strategy.

BlackBerry could implement its branded security into its Priv Android smartphone by fully implementing the Android SE-Linux features. BlackBerry could then deliver its branded security with SE-Linux security.

The Priv could demand a premium price

Public and private enterprises that really have important information to secure are going to be more willing to pay top dollar. If BlackBerry executes well with end-to-end FIPS 140-2 compliance, rock-solid device security through SE-Linux, and includes the new Priv in its circle of trust that security-sensitive enterprises choose over other devices, enterprises that need real security will pay a premium price.

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