BlackBerry Ltd. Continues to Defy Logic With Continued BB10 Support

If there’s one thing that BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) excels at, it’s confusing everyone about the future direction of the company. The embattled manufacturer of smartphones is several years into a long and difficult turnaround plan, which has seen the company transition from primarily a hardware-based company that caters to consumers and business users to more of a service-oriented company focused on security, enterprise customers, and building a secure platform that is Mobile-OS agnostic.

BB10 is (or quite possibly was, depending on the time of day) BlackBerry’s proprietary mobile operating system, based off of the QNX platform. Highly secure, very stable, and extremely scalable, BB10 had the foundation to eventually match if not outperform Android and iOS devices on every feature.

The problem? BB10 lacked the consumer adoption necessary to drive developers to build for the new platform. Consumers in turn left the platform, which drove the few development shops invested in the platform away. Once the dismal marketing efforts, high price point, and lacklustre specifications of the devices were taken into consideration, the writing was on the wall.

Eventually, the company realized there was no future for BB10 and made the decision to move to Android. In doing so, BlackBerry announced the high-end Priv late last year to much fanfare. That device didn’t sell too well either, but that could be traced back to the high price point of the device, which has steadily dropped over the past few months.

BB10 is dead or not?

Throughout the transition to Android, BlackBerry hasn’t been coy about the fact that it will continue to provide maintenance releases to BB10, primary for the enterprise work space. It also set expectations by stating that there would be no new future BB10 devices. As testament of this, BlackBerry announced earlier this month that the company would stop building the Classic device, citing the transition to Android.

BlackBerry’s chief operating officer Marty Beard added some confusion to the pot recently by stating that the company is “not backing away from BB10 because we have a huge amount of customers on BB10 and high expectations from that group.”

Judging by the number of major application partners that have already dropped or will be dropping the platform within the next few months, not to mention BlackBerry’s own BB10 development team, which has been almost completely let go, there isn’t bound to be much traction for the platform, let alone a new BB10 device, anytime soon.

Android is a better bet, but BlackBerry has to double down

One advantage that BlackBerry has over other Android device manufacturers is that it is respected in the realm security and efficiency.

The company has been working feverishly over the past few months to port more and more of the efficient features from BB10 over to Android, which has not only attracted interest from the larger community, but even has an underground following of users that want to port those BlackBerry applications over to other Android devices. This alone could be a great revenue stream for the company if BlackBerry were ever to release the applications to the open market.

From a device standpoint, the only Android-powered BlackBerry is the Priv, but the company has repeatedly stated that there are two new devices slated for introduction this year; the first of those devices will be announced within a few weeks.

BlackBerry remains, in my opinion, a company with a great amount of potential, but it’s still a very risky investment. The company’s reluctance to accept the fate of the BB10 operating system and focus solely on Android adoption and potentially new revenue streams will continue to hold down the stock for the foreseeable future.

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Fool contributor Demetris Afxentiou has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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