The DTEK50 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow modified with encryption technology “originally developed for the BB10” platform, said BlackBerry, which includes a hardware Root of Trust, full disk encryption, and a secure bootloader, plus the promise of “rapid” updates and security fixes. “DTEK50 merges unique security and connectivity features … with the rich Android ecosystem,” Ralph Pini, head of BlackBerry’s device division, said in a press release.
BlakBerry’s hoping the midrange DTEK50 will prove a hit among corporate types. The company’s first-ever Android phone, the Priv, launched in November, and contributed to the company’s disappointing 500,000 in device sales in the first quarter of this year — down significantly from the 2.1 million it sold in the same period in 2014. Analysts blamed the Priv’s substantial price tag — $700 — for the dip, a pressure point which BlackBerry’s obviously taken pains to remove with the affordable-by-comparison DTEK50.
BlackBerry chief John Chen has expressed a willingness to “cut loose” the company’s handset division if it can’t turn a profit — it needs to sell at least 3 million units a year at an average price of $300 to break even, he said in April. Last fiscal quarter, BlackBerry’s device division suffered a loss of $21 million, and its hardware accounted for less than 1 percent of the smartphone market.