Just days after the headlining BlackBerry Priv hit retail shelves, rumors are already starting to surface of another BlackBerry manufactured Android device. This rumored device is dubbed the BlackBerry "Vienna", and takes on a more traditional BlackBerry look by having a true candybar form factor, with a physical QWERTY keyboard that's always present on the front of the device.
The BlackBerry Priv has already made quite a splash in the mobile industry, which shouldn’t come as a surprise being that a BlackBerry manufactured Android device has been sought after for quite some time now. BlackBerry’s dedication to tight security measures combined with Android’s customizable open platform mesh together very well, and the Priv’s design also happens to be a healthy mix of "modern" and "traditional" with its slab design and slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard.
But, as always, BlackBerry is no stranger to catering to folks who still, after all these years, prefer the true candybar form factor of older BlackBerry devices. Renders (shown above) of the rumored BlackBerry Vienna have already popped up, and the result is a sleek and professional-looking device.
Unlike the Priv, the Vienna wouldn’t be the first Android device to look like this. There have been at least a couple of Android devices in the past that shared this same form factor, like the low-end Samsung Replenish and the Motorola Admiral. Candybars with QWERTY keyboards never seemed to catch on well with Android enthusiasts before, but I predict that a company like BlackBerry – who is known for this type of design – would have a much easier time getting people on board with it. After all, it's a BlackBerry device with a physical keyboard. That's their thing.
I think that the Vienna is a good idea, and would likely serve not only as a gateway device for BlackBerry OS users to join BlackBerry’s foray into Android, but also (hopefully) as a cheaper alternative to the expensive Priv. When you sift through the mixed bag of reviews that tech bloggers have already written about the Priv, the price point is unanimously decided as being too high at $699, especially for the non-enthusiast smartphone consumer. Even if you choose to purchase the Priv through a contract, it will run you $249. Although many may feel that the BlackBerry Priv is worth that amount of money, when you’re competing against companies like Apple (and more importantly other Android manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Motorola, etc.) appropriate pricing is extremely important – especially when you’re rebuilding your reputation.
BlackBerry has recognized the importance of having more affordable products on the market in the past, exemplified by the BlackBerry Q5. I’d like to think that BlackBerry (especially if they’re taking their approach to Android seriously, which seems to be the case) also knows that it’s important to practice that same strategy here. I would say it’s especially needed here given that Android is such a diverse market when it comes to low, mid, and high-end range of devices – if a manufacturer invests in Android, you need to have devices in each category in order to successfully build the brand. Motorola is a prime example of how to rebuild a brand in each category with the Moto E, G, and X lines of smartphones.
In short, I think that BlackBerry should use their classic design for an Android smartphone. It might not be for everybody, but I think everybody knows a handful of people that would much prefer this type of design over the multitude of slab-style phones that we already have to choose from. As long as they give it an appropriate price point this time around and keep stressing the importance of security, I think it would manage a slight boost for BlackBerry, even if just for nostalgic purposes.