John Chen, the chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) confirmed that the company plans produce more Android phones this year.
During an interview at the 2016 CES, Chen said BlackBerry intends to release at least one new smartphone this year, probably another one this year. Both devices will be powered by Google’s Android operating system.
Chen focused on making BlackBerry smartphone business profitable
Chen expects BlackBerry to turnaround its struggling smartphone business toward profitability soon. According to him, the company will continue to make smartphones if he can make the business profitable. His objective is to end the losses of the business unit over the next two quarters.
Some investors want BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) to exit its smartphone business unit altogether and focused its efforts on the growth of its software business. Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial commented, “For those people looking for BlackBerry to become much leaner, much less capital-intensive, the handset business might be considered a disappointment.”
Last month, Chen emphasized that BlackBerry will always be a phone company even if it entails working with other smartphone manufacturers such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (KRX: 005930).
He said, “When I tell people, ‘If we don’t make money I’m going to get out of the handset business,’ I mean the hardware. We have tons of software. That could absolutely run on not only Android phones but Apple phones or Windows phones.”
BlackBerry brings PRIV to Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
Chen’s statement about BlackBerry’s smartphone plans followed an announcement from the company that its PRIV smartphone will be available through Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S), T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) this month and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) by the end of March.
According to the company, PRIV will be available through the seven leading mobile carriers in North America including AT& T (NYSE:T) Bell Canada, Rogers Communications (NYSE:RCI) (TSE:RCI.B), and TELUS Corporation (TSE:T).
Additionally, the company said PRIV is also available today via Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) in the United Kingdom.
BlackBerry plans to sell the PRIV smartphone in 31 countries over the next few quarters. The device costs $699. Chen said the price will likely go down over time. He recently stated that the company’s PRIV strategy has been encouraging since the launching of the device.