R.I.P. BB10: BlackBerry is fully committed to Android in 2016

Priv won't be the last BlackBerry powered by Android. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Priv won’t be the last BlackBerry powered by Android. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

BlackBerry has confirmed that all of the handsets it releases in 2016 will run Android.

The Canadian company has all but given up on its own BlackBerry 10 operating system following the release of Priv, its first Android-powered smartphone, late last year.

It’s still unclear exactly how successful Priv has been so far, but some reports have claimed it’s selling out in many markets, and BlackBerry CEO John Chen seems happy with its performance. “So far, so good,” he told CNET during at interview at CES 2016 in Las Vegas this week.

Android solves one of BlackBerry’s biggest problems, which is a lack of apps. Very few developers have embraced BB10 since it made its debut in January 2013, leaving BlackBerry World (BlackBerry’s app store) looking bare, and without popular releases found on other platforms.

Only the die-hard BlackBerry faithful invested in BB10, then, and unfortunately for BlackBerry, there aren’t enough of them to keep the company afloat. Chen had little choice but to adopt Android in a last-ditch attempt to save BlackBerry’s hardware business.

But for all except those die-hard BlackBerry fans, this is an exciting move. It means more competition in the Android space, and BlackBerry traditionally produces good hardware. It’s also the only company still making phones with physical keyboards — and good ones at that.

Now BlackBerry has confirmed that it will launch another one or two smartphones in 2016, and they will both run Android. BlackBerry 10, at least for 2016, is dead — though Chen has committed to providing support and minor updates for existing users.

If the new Android handsets are good — as Priv is (our full review is coming soon!) — then Chen may be able to give BlackBerry’s hardware business a fighting chance.

If they flop, and not even Android can get people buying BlackBerry smartphones, then it will almost certainly get the chop.