BlackBerry Hints at Future Android-Powered ‘Venice’ Smartphone

One of the next smartphones from BlackBerry could signal a new platform strategy for the firm, as recent leaked images and videos suggest the company might be preparing to release an Android-powered device codenamed "Venice." While BlackBerry has been increasingly integrating Android apps and support into its own operating system, it has not to date made a device that runs on anything but its own OS.

The latest pictures of the reported new smartphone from BlackBerry appeared over the weekend on the Facebook page of someone named Ba Minh Duc in Vietnam. One image, as the BlackBerry fan site CrackBerry noted, "clearly shows the display powered on and running what is presumably Android Lollipop."

Leaked photos and videos hint at a curved-edge device with a 5.4-inch screen, a rear camera and a slide-out physical keyboard at the bottom.

When BlackBerry last year launched the 10.3 update of its OS, it also added access to the Amazon Appstore and more than 240,000 Android applications. As Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen noted at the time, "Making the Amazon Appstore available on BlackBerry 10 devices will help BlackBerry continue to meet two essential needs: greater app availability for our smartphone users and enhanced productivity solutions for enterprises."

'Proceed with Caution'

Coming out with a fully Android-powered smartphone, however, would indicate a significantly different strategy for BlackBerry than supporting Android apps via BB 10. That raises the question of whether BlackBerry is taking on the challenge of becoming a two-platform device company.

Only a handful of companies -- Samsung with its Windows phones, for example -- have been able to sustain the development of devices on more than one platform, said Ramon Llamas, research manager for wearables and mobile phones at the analyst firm IDC.

"What history has shown is it's very difficult for any company...

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