BlackBerry may be looking to Google’s Android operating system to power an upcoming smartphone.
The struggling smartphone maker could run Android on an “upcoming slider device” that will likely be released this fall, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing sources “familiar with the matter.” The smartphone would, according to Reuters, combine a touchscreen with a slide-out keyboard that people could use if they prefer.
The move would be a tacit admission of the failure of BlackBerry’s homegrown mobile operating system to win over new smartphone customers. The BlackBerry OS saw its market share fall to just 0.4 percent in 2014, according to IDC. An embrace of Android, however, would fall in line with the smartphone maker’s focus shift toward software and services layered on top of devices.
BlackBerry declined to comment on Reuters’ report, but said in an emailed statement that it remains “committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched.”
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At this year’s Mobile World Congress trade show, BlackBerry teased a smartphone with a curved display that wraps around the side, like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and a slide-out keyboard. It’s unclear if this is the same slider device Reuters’ sources said may run Android. BlackBerry also unveiled an all-touchscreen phone called the Leap at the show, a departure from its earlier line-up, which was totally dependent on BlackBerry’s trademark physical keyboard.
As it attempts to shift toward the more lucrative software and services business, BlackBerry has signaled a willingness to embrace operating systems it previously would have considered a competitive threat.
In March, the company unveiled plans to create a “BlackBerry Experience Suite,” taking BlackBerry features like its Hub messaging portal, virtual keyboard and security capabilities and turning them into a collection of apps and features that will be made available to iPhones, iPads and devices running on the Android and Windows operating systems. The company also released its popular BBM messenger service to Android and iOS in 2013.
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CNET’s Roger Cheng contributed to this report.