BlackBerry courts Android fans with Priv

Mike Al Mefleh, product management director, explains the strategy behind Priv.
Mike Al Mefleh, product management director for the Middle East, BlackBerry.
Mike Al Mefleh, product management director for the Middle East, BlackBerry.

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CommsMEA: Tell me about Priv. What’s the strategy behind the launch and what does it mean for BlackBerry?

It’s an exciting time for BlackBerry. If you look at the enterprise market, enterprises actually started to realise that there is a risk with mobile devices, so Blackberry is capitalising on this opportunity given the fact that there is much we can do. BlackBerry has built a paradigm to advance security, privacy and productivity - areas where BlackBerry is known to have a lot of strength. Priv is the natural next step for BlackBerry focusing on security, privacy and productivity, and value for money.

CommsMEA: Do you see a good niche for an Android-powered BlackBerry?

There is a segment for the need to lead in that ecosystem with security, privacy and productivity. That segment is currently underserved. Priv achieves a lot of things in the market so really we’re looking at this from a business perspective. Priv supports across platforms which means it’s a fit for all people and all devices. And it closes our app gap. We are also able to embed security and privacy into Android, which is an underserved segment. The differentiation we have with the slide-out keyboard will help us to cater to certain segments in this market.

CommsMEA: What is the rationale behind launching an Android-based smartphone?

Android is actually not completely new to Blackberry. We have been supporting Android for a long time when you consider Android for Work, BlackBerry Management and BlackBerry Enterprise Solutions, and then of course supporting some of the business applications. So the Priv is the natural extension of that strategy. We can think about the Priv as the natural next step for BlackBerry to build on or have the combined relationship between the two platforms. We are also able to serve and be able to support an underserved segment in the market for Android users.

CommsMEA: What differentiates the Priv from other Android devices?

In terms of privacy we have developed the security from the bottom up, from the hardware to the OS to the applications. The security is embedded, your data is encrypted so your data is always protected whatever you do, whether at the OS level, hardware or application level. Priv actually targets many different people, for example the quick adaptors who want the latest and greatest in the market, we are serving Android users who feel they are lacking productivity. They are enjoying the Android OS, they like what they see but they are lacking some productivity tools, so this is another segment we are addressing.

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