The Motley Fool

Is an Android Phone the Answer for BlackBerry Ltd.?

One of my very good friends writes for Fool.ca and he has been a BlackBerry Ltd.  (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) supporter ever since I met him. Years ago he said to me, “Android is to consumer as BlackBerry is to enterprise. Just you wait … BlackBerry will go Android.” And it seems that he was right.

There are now leaks going around about the BlackBerry Venice, which is the company’s next phone that has a sliding keyboard and the Android operating system. This news could potentially be some of the biggest that BlackBerry has had for the past few years. What makes this a smart move is that this is a truly mature operating system. While BB10 is a great OS, no one really knows that. People know Android.

BlackBerry needs this to succeed

I have been an advocate for quite some time for BlackBerry to stop making hardware and focus entirely on enterprise software. I think the Internet of Things is going to be a big hit and there is a lot of money for the company to make. But so long as BlackBerry is making hardware, it needs to knock this out of the park.

BlackBerry makes great devices and its software is the most secure on the market. Yet people compare BlackBerry to bad technology. That’s an unfortunate position to be in because bad branding can severely impact decision making on the enterprise software side. I view this phone as one targeted towards people that need a secure work phone.

People don’t want a BlackBerry because its native OS doesn’t have a lot of applications, but they use it because it is secure. This device will have the security of a BlackBerry with the operating system of an Android, with millions of applications. On top of that, its physical keyboard might make it a favourite among people that are heavy phone users. Consider that the Passport was a pretty big success due to its wide screen and keyboard. The Venice could, theoretically, target a similar audience.

BlackBerry needs to sell its niche

At the end of the day, BlackBerry needs to focus on its niche. It is a strong, security-based mobile company. Its hardware is good and its software is secure. Bringing Android to its hardware should allow it to gain more interest from consumers, and the company is able to argue that it is a secure phone.

But the thing is this: if the Venice fails, BlackBerry needs to get out of phones. Apple and Samsung have already won this war. If the Venice wins, this might be what BlackBerry needs to start turning the company around.

I recommend a small position in this company and, if the numbers are good for the Venice, acquire more after that information is released.

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Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.

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