BlackBerry unveils “Priv”, the Android slider smartphone formerly named Venice

Not that there was ever any doubt, but BlackBerry’s long-rumoured “Venice” smartphone has been officially unveiled as the “Priv” and it will be available this year.

BlackBerry Priv Venice
The BlackBerry Priv (formerly Venice)

After months of speculation, the company finally mentioned the device in its Fiscal 2016 Second Quarter Results, where chief executive John Chen said that BlackBerry is still going after profitability in the handset business, and that the name “Priv” comes from a focus on privacy.

“Priv will be the solution for smartphone users who are learning daily of the lack of privacy they have on their current devices,” Chen said in a blog post dedicated to the device. “Priv will be the answer for former BlackBerry users who miss the physical keyboard but needed apps.”

The first time the Priv (then codenamed Venice) made an appearance was at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in March in Barcelona, when Ron Louks, the company’s president of devices and emerging solutions, flashed a phone with a curved screen and slide-out keyboard on stage.

Since then, a series of leaks have trickled out, including renders demonstrating Android functionality.

While select Android apps have been available on BlackBerry for some time through the Amazon Appstore, this will be the first device to combine the Android operating system with the company’s hardware and security features.

BlackBerry Venice priv

Over the past year, the Canadian company has made several acquisitions in an attempt to cement itself as a leader in secure communications. This has included file-sharing security company WatchDox, secure applications and containerization provider Good Technology, and secure crisis communications provider AtHoc.

These deals emerged to a backdrop of layoffs, despite profitable quarters.

The company has also pushed its cross-platform strategy with software, bringing BlackBerry Experience Suite to iOS, Android and Windows phones, as the company has already done with BBM, BlackBerry Blend and BES. It even partnered with companies such as Samsung for its KNOX functionality.

BlackBerry Venice

“In combination with BlackBerry’s efforts to support Android for Work on the BES12 platform, the new device will offer best in class security for enterprise customers,” Chen said in the fiscal report.

He added that the company will release the device later this year in major markets in-store and online, with details coming in later weeks.

The company has said it remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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