Reuters reports today that Blackberry is considering the release of an Android-based smartphone. The Ontario-based smartphone maker is said to be anxious to regain marketshare, and promote its cross-platform BES12 device management system.
Reuters, via MacRumors:
“BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen is banking on the company’s new device management system, BES12, that allows corporate and government clients to not only manage BlackBerry devices on their internal networks, but also devices powered by Android, Apple’s iOS platform and Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system.”
Reuters claims Blackberry will release an Android-based slider phone, which will feature both a physical keyboard as well as touchscreen capabilities.
Blackberry was once the leader in the smartphone industry, but has in recent years been faced with a plunging market share, due to competition from the popular iPhone, and a host of Android based alternatives. BlackBerry now holds less than a 1% share of the mobile device market.
The company hopes to offer a unique device that will find a niche in the Android market by offering both a large touchscreen and a physical keyboard. Thereby offering the best of both Android and BlackBerry features to prospective customers.
BlackBerry says it remains committed to its own BlackBerry 10 devices. “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched,” a BlackBerry spokesperson told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the company’s employees headcount in its hardware unit continues to drop. Employee count at the unit, which at a 2011 peak employed 17,500 people, was down to 6,225 in February of this year. The company announced last month that it was making further cuts on the device side of things, but didn’t provide any solid numbers.