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Will the Priv Save BlackBerry Ltd. or Will Another Technology Save it?

Ever since BlackBerry Ltd.  (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) announced that it was releasing the Priv, an Android-powered phone, I have been pretty pessimistic about its success. Even though it has been dubbed “Android Secure” and has access to the entire Android app ecosystem, I had little faith that it was going to be able to take much market share.

The primary reason for that pessimism is because Apple Inc.  (NASDAQ:AAPL) controls the phone market. According to CEO Tim Cook, 30% of iPhone buyers had switched from Android during the fourth quarter. Even the other big Android suppliers can’t beat Apple.

Yet the reviews of the Priv are coming in and they are incredible. On top of that, retailers are consistently sold out of the device. While this is all very good news, what we don’t yet know is how many have actually been sold. That being said, CEO John Chen said to CNBC, “The company is doing reasonably well now, from a financial standpoint, so now our focus is to grow our businesses. We still have very high fixed costs, but [handset] profitability will come next year.”

A profitable handset division would be a huge deal for BlackBerry and absolutely warrants picking up shares. However, I remain pessimistic that the handset division will ever be as great as it was.

There is hope

I believe it will be the Internet of Things (IoT) that will truly bring BlackBerry back to its former glory. IDC, the research firm, believes that IoT could be a US$1.7 trillion market by 2020 because there are going to be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. That’s about seven connected devices per person in the world.

What BlackBerry is hoping to do is provide security for the space. Back in 2010, it bought the QNX operating system, which is already being used in Ford cars. This enables the cars to be connected to the Internet. I anticipate other companies bringing devices online over the next few years, which will necessitate a quality operating system that is secure. The last thing you want is someone being able to hack your car while you’re driving. BlackBerry excels at security.

Should you buy?

There’s a decent chance that the Priv–and future Android phones–really do take off for BlackBerry and the handset division becomes truly profitable. However, my belief is that the phones will make just enough to not drain resources from the company and, it’ll be its software department that generates growth for the company.

My recommendation is that investors start buying shares of BlackBerry slowly. Wait as it reveals new partners in the IoT space and see if its handset department is profitable. Add further shares on the good news.

BlackBerry can succeed. I have never been more confident than I am now. But I remain convinced that the primary driver of growth will be the Internet of Things.

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