There was a time when BlackBerry was one of the top players in the smartphone space. But in a world dominated by Android and iOS devices, Blackberry phones have a tiny market share.

The company is hoping to change things soon by launching its first smartphone running Google Android software, while also continuing to support phones running BlackBerry OS.

But what if the company continues to lose money? Speaking at the Code/Mobile conference, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the company could decide to stop making hardware and focus on software instead if its phones aren’t profitable in a year.

blackberry priv

Over the past few years BlackBerry has taken steps that would pave the way for the company to become a software and services businesses rather than one that makes and sells it own phones.

BlackBerry Messenger apps are already available for Android and iOS, and the company is expanding its BlackBerry Enterprise Services software to work with Android.

So while the company is hoping its upcoming Priv smartphone appeals to folks who want the Android user interface and app ecosystem but who also want a BlackBerry-style physical keyboard and enterprise-level security features, it’s possible that BlackBerry could survive in a world where its software is used for Samsung, HTC, or LG phones rather than BlackBerry handsets.

But those decisions are a year or so away — after BlackBerry finds out if it can sell around 5 million phones per year.

Right now, the company is getting ready to ship the Priv and has plans to launch at least two more versions of BlackBerry OS. Whether the company continues to develop its own operating system will depend on how much demand there is for the software in the coming years.

Update: In case it wasn’t clear, BlackBerry doesn’t currently plan to exit the hardware business. Chen wrote a blog post saying he’s confident the upcoming BlackBerry Priv smartphone will be a huge success for the company… but if it’s not, this is hardly the first time he’s suggested that BlackBerry could have a future as a software company even if it gives up on making hardware due to low demand.

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9 replies on “BlackBerry could stop making phones in 2016 if they’re not profitable”

  1. I’m using a Blackberry Z30. It has a great camera and incredible audio and video. I can install apps from the Amazon store too. Good battery life too. I used to hate the old Blackberry 5 phones with the tiny lame keyboards, but the Z30 is hard to beat for an employer sponsored phone. Great hardware, but the funky Blackberry 10 OS is kind of lame with the ‘swipes’. Most Android or iOS users are confused by Blackberry 10 OS when they borrow my phone.

  2. I would rather them die than them release a phone running the world’s worst mobile OS. Either are just as terrible. What they really should’ve focused on were cheaper phones. I would have loved to buy a Blackberry if they didn’t cost a thousand dollars, instead I went with a sub-$100 Nokia Lumia 520. It’s a shame they canceled the only reasonably priced BB phone they ever had planned since 2008.

    “Why aren’t people buying our phones? Quick, Johnson! Make them cost more!”

  3. Before this phone was announced, I couldn’t have cared less about Blackberry. However, this is everything I have wanted in a phone for a long time. This will be my next phone as long as it’s priced under $899. Hopefully it will be less, but this is a phone I would stand in line all night to be the first in line to buy.

  4. quit now then and save the time, money and effort..cause your done…

  5. maybe they shouldnt have blatantly LIED about bring bb10 to the playbook. thorstein heinz asshole.

  6. It would help if my service carrier (Sprint) actually let me buy their most interesting devices. I was really excited about the Passport when it was first announced, but (at least as far as I know) there’s no way for me to get one on my plan.

    It’s a vicious cycle: gotta sell phones to get carriers to invest, but the majority of consumers won’t buy you phones if they can’t get them through their carrier.

  7. C’moooon, ship it already! Seriously, it would help with profitability if we could actually buy your phones.

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