Early reports on BlackBerry Ltd.’s (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) latest phone, the Venice, suggest it’s going run Android and be available on all major U.S. carriers. Now both business and private users can combine BlackBerry’s easy-to-type keyboard with Android’s millions of apps on any network. For the first time in years, the company can market a bona fide phone on reasonable plans and networks to a wide base of users. Will the Venice phone actually be a game changer?

Security still a top priority

While BlackBerry now controls less than 1% of the smartphone market in North America, it is still widely used in industries with high priority on security such as asset management firms, governments, and defense firms. This new phone does nothing to dissuade these core customers from continuing to use their platform.

The new phone is going to run a secure version of Android that makes it substantially more appealing to nearly any user. This should help them tap into traditional Android users as well as people and companies who have historically valued security.

BlackBerry Messenger, the ultra-secure messenger service with over 80 million users, should also be available on the phone.

Already low expectations

Expectations for the Venice are understandably low given BlackBerry’s multiple failed attempts at a resurgence over the years. For example, the company previously trumpeted the Q10 phone as their savior and investors bought it that time. BlackBerry’s stock rallied prior to the launch, going from $7 a share in October 2012 to $15 a share in March 2013 on the anticipation of strong Q10 sales.

Today, the stock is back in the $7 range. Although the Venice is expected to launch in November, the stock has barely budged off its annual lows. With much lower expectations this time around, investors have a bit more room for error if new hardware sales don’t experience a renaissance.

Improving balance sheet provides time to ramp hardware

BlackBerry continues to add cash to its balance sheet via asset sales, monetizing its massive and potentially undervalued patent portfolio. It has a huge portfolio of patents that are not even being used yet. Because most of these were developed internally, they are reflected on the balance sheet as what they cost to develop, not necessarily what they are worth.

Monetizing these intellectual assets can help realize hidden value for investors. Today, the company has roughly 40% of its market value in cash. While downside is limited by the cash cushion, upside remains significant.

Wait and see

BlackBerry remains cash flow positive and is growing its cash pile. With the Venice launching soon, the company can afford to backstop its most promising product in years. Combined with its massive unrealized patent portfolio, BlackBerry stock could be worth multiple its current value.

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