back to article More BlackBerry layoffs: 200 Venice devs binned amid Android shift

BlackBerry’s phone ambitions are diminishing more than ever as the former smartphone giant prepares to launch its first pure Android phone. Reuters reports that around 200 hardware and design staff have been laid off, following the completion of work on an Android device codenamed "Venice". It’s the latest in a succession of “ …

  1. PipV

    Venice

    Who on earth thought naming a project after a city that is slowly sinking?

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Venice

      "Who on earth thought naming a project after a city that is slowly sinking?"

      An organisation that is slowly sinking.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Venice

      Maybe they were hoping it would help keep the project afloat as long as the city?

  2. James 51 Silver badge

    If BB10 is put on ice that will be a pity. It's fast and fluid, good use of gestures and the hub is the best communication aggragator I've seen in a phone.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Yup as its clear the Q10 isn't being replaced and the Passport is still to big for what I want I am probably just going to run it until I need to replace the battery and just get a cheap android phone.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Was planning to get a classic or a passport and it's the lack of removeable battery that's putting me off. Just bought a new battery for my Q10. Should do me for another eighteen months.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          The only issue I have is since I smashed the screen good and proper (Walked into the corner of a table very fast) every time I drop the phone it restarts.

  3. TheVogon Silver badge

    Who is going to buy Blackberrys that are based on Android?

    A major reason people historically bought Blackberrys was security and whilst Blackberry 10 hasn't been great (over 80 vulnerabilities so far), Android is probably the most insecure of the current generation mobile OSs, well behind IOS and Windows Phone - which is the clear security leader by vulnerability count.

    This is the one of the last few bubbles from Blackberry as they sink towards the bottom of the ocean imo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "A major reason people historically bought Blackberrys was security and whilst Blackberry 10 hasn't been great (over 80 vulnerabilities so far), Android is probably the most insecure of the current generation mobile OSs, well behind IOS and Windows Phone - which is the clear security leader by vulnerability count."

      Given that all software seems to have vulnerabilities, the important thing is that they get fixed and the patches distributed. Not sure Google have heard of that last part...

      If BB produce a well sorted high quality piece of hardware then Venice might just take off. I've been impressed with the build quailty and design detail on the BB Z30, so the signs are good. If they go and put BlackBerry Hub on it then I will be sorely tempted. My only concern is that it'll be too Androidy; I'm playing with a Nexus 5 at the moment too (hence anon coward), and it's whole notifications / tabs / running programs thing is massively confusing. I wouldn't want that...

    2. Bc1609

      Re: security as a selling point

      I'm not so sure about that. For Reg readers I'm sure that security was a major concern, but it was only a few years ago that all the children on my morning bus had Blackberries. These days they have all seem to have Iphones, or, more commonly, the mid-range Samsung offerings - security is clearly not their concern. They were using them because they were cheap and had free messaging via BBS. Now that Whatsapp and so on have taken that corner of the market Blackberries seem less popular.

      Even among more adult users I doubt that security was a major concern for anyone not involved in tech. The vast, vast majority of people know little and care less about their device's software security. For many of them I imagine that a good hardware keyboard is probably more of an issue than the OS (give or take a handful of software features - which can after all be ported to or recreated in Android).

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: security as a selling point

        "all the children on my morning bus had Blackberries"

        That was due to BBM. It's available on other mobile OSs now.

        1. Bc1609

          Re: security as a selling point

          Whoops, I said BBS instead of BBM.

          1. m0rt Silver badge

            Re: security as a selling point

            Thing is, I like my Passport. I will be sad if BBOS 10 goes. But...

            If Blackberry keep up to date with Android and do a motorola on software updates, and more than anything, move the HUB over to Android, I am sold.

            Otherwise, Wileyfox I think, when I deem the Passport too past it.

        2. John Sanders
          Holmes

          Re: security as a selling point

          It is available yes, with annoying ads and promotions and paid for icons, hence why everybody is using Whatsapp these days.

          Blackberry does not understand the current mobile market at all, otherwise they would have never bothered with that money sink that was BB10 and would have released an Android based phone on day 1 after realising they were in trouble.

          I'm afraid it could be too late.

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: security as a selling point

        Sure, for a lot of people "security" seems not to matter too much.

        However, now that there's tons of adverts for NFC-pay-by-phone, there's money at stake. If there's one thing that everyone really, really cares about it is money. If people start realising that poor security = money stolen from their bank account, they will care a lot about security. Android's update anarchy is a seriously liability in this regard. Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry can say, "we've got updates properly sorted". Google cannot.

      3. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Yes, I was new to Blackberry with a z10 and it's the integration and build quality I like. If they can provide an Android launcher with a similar UI to BB10 and regular OTA updates then I'm not really going to care what's underneath (except for finding it easier to run apps).

    3. SamCritch

      I'm a longtime BlackBerry user. I had an iPhone 5 for nearly 2 years - it was smooth, but I switched back to BlackBerry when the BB Passport came out because I couldn't type fast on a touch screen and because I missed all the shortcuts which made it much faster to communicate with a BlackBerry. I love the Passport, BB10 and the fact it can run Android apps, but it's a pain to install them, they don't all run and the notifications don't work properly. Give me a BlackBerry device with a physical keyboard, an overlay UI allowing the keyboard shortcuts I used to enjoy, native Android and all apps and notifications etc, and I will buy it over any other device - I suspect other people will too.

      1. ifraser

        Pain to install??

        No pain, install the play store or 1mobile, pick and app and install it,

        takes 2 mins and is just as quick as the bb world app.

        I am also a longtime bb fan and love the passport.

      2. Jess

        it can run Android apps, but it's a pain to install them

        You mean the fact that you use the Amazon app store on the device rather than have Google Push them out to you? I know you have to press one more confirmation than on a real android device, but that is hardly a pain.

        (OK it is a pain to install the play store, but once done installing apps is simple)

        What people seem not to have noticed is that once BlackBerry goes, there will be no major smartphone manufacturer whose OS updates and primary app store are not subject to the patriot act.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't underestimate BBRY - some of this might be external manifestation of internal infighting..

      ...Better that they get out of the low margin handset lark ASAP and continue the move into supplying secure infrastructure to other players.

      John Chen's pedigree is primarily software and for that I see him steering this slow ship around by doing just that QNX/CarPlay/Ford/Good Technology. I see the handset thing as a last chance saloon for his internal squabblers to say "see? we tried and we're bleeding cash, now put up or shut up".

      Don't forget - apple might be doing something with cars at some point:

      http://www.qnx.com/partners/partner.html?partnerid=161700

      Project Titan:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/apple-car-company-has-committed-to-making-its-own-vehicle-and-could-release-it-in-2019-10513002.html

      QNX in ford cars:

      http://www.computerworld.com/article/2859373/ford-dumps-microsoft-for-qnx-unleashes-new-functions-in-sync-v3.html

      1. whiz

        Re: Don't underestimate BBRY - some of this might be external manifestation of internal infighting..

        Both Apple Car and Android Car are based on BB QNX.

        They just provide the interface.

        The Kernel and API are all BB

      2. nobody_important

        Re: Don't underestimate BBRY - some of this might be external manifestation of internal infighting..

        I rest my case:

        https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/28/blackberry-to-stop-making-phones-handsets

  4. bpfh Silver badge
    Go

    Shut up and take my money...

    Android, but with a decent mail app and the worlds best mobile keyboard.... I need one, stat!

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Shut up and take my money...

      But they are going to charge Q10 prices, it needs to be cheap as currently its not appealing to me.

  5. Alex Kim
    Happy

    The End

    The end is near for Blackberry. Just look at the Crackberry Website. Not a lot of people on it. Plus one of the most famous Fanboys Blackberry Hank has given up. I love my Passport but see the writing on the wall that it will not be supported for long.

  6. Wilco

    BB Bought Good?

    That's a big deal (and a smart move). All the banks use Good to support BYOD on iPhone. I am surprised that the Register didn't cover this. I may have to start looking elsewhere for my primary tech news source if el reg continues to waste time snarking about climate change while not covering important news stories like this

  7. Frank N. Stein

    The end is near...

    I was going to wait and see what this BB slider might be, but already bailed to a Nexus 6, for my phone exchange upgrade. Not sure how much life is left in Blackberry. Maybe it's time to sell the hardware division and just develop BES for Enterprise MDM. Don't know why they aren't focused on BES. Maybe Chen is following the previous CEO'S Golden Parachute methodology(screw the company up/get fired/get paid.)

  8. Metrognome

    About 5 years too late.

    I still remember everyone's cries for a decent keyboard (and NO, the HTC ChaCha is not a decent keyboard) on an Android device and how if BB could pull it we'd all migrate to their handsets.

    Still, we'll see if better late than never still holds.

  9. Howard Hanek
    Headmaster

    Mobile Phone Future?

    Android 85% Apple 15% Blackberry 0%

  10. Waspy

    If won't come to your stuff, bring it to them...

    Such a shame... But blackberry only have have themselves to blame, they were late to market and unless you explain just what it is about your product people should buy into then the market typically goes for a 'good enough' solution. Android is good enough. Personally for me, whilst android has all sorts of clever tricks up its sleeves now it's still a bit clunky and bb10 is hands down the most productive os I've ever used... The hub is incredible, the multitasking intuitive and fluid etc etc. Unfortunately no one has used it and everyone thinks that blackberry is either bust or that bb10 is the same company phone they hated in 2009.

    If blackberry can bring some of that magic to the platform everyone has settled for then they may just make it through.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Makes Microsoft's phone division look well.

  12. therebel

    Every recent handset they have launched (with the exception of the Q5) had been massively over priced. If the Venice launches at £150-£200 ex vat then it might have a chance but the minute I see the price start with a 3 or a 4 then that will be the final nail in the coffin.

  13. lmcdunna

    The Hub still rules

    If you care about getting stuff done, there's no equal to BB10. Force me to use an iPhone and i slow down. That's not because i'm not familiar with it. It's simply not designed for productivity. Every function a different app? Give me a break. The hub pulls all my comms in one place. It's brilliant. My other favorite feature is the built-in to the calendar "Join Now" feature. I'm on the move all the time, car, bike, walking, train, bus, you name it. When someone puts a conference call on my calendar, it's ONE FRICKING click to join. No memorizing 10 digit participant codes (like my iPhone friends have to do). If the do drop BB10 (and if someone is listening), I hope they put the Hub on their Android device.

  14. Jess

    They would have done better to put their OS on cheap chinese hardware.

    Perhaps a range of low end 7" phablets below £100, given a different branding ('BB' would seem to be the obvious choice).

    I find Android a cheap nasty OS, fine for budget devices, but not anything I'd want to pay more than about £80 for.

    I was thinking of replacing my Q5 with a Passport or Z30 until all this came up. Until this the only things putting me off were the lack of timed power off/on (meaning alarms don't work from off) and inability to switch to 2G only. (Which my previous Bolds both had). On the software front, my only real irritation is the lack of video add in for Bria.

    But now I shall wait (this will have a knock on effect, to others waiting to replace their phones), if they are pulling the plugs on BB10, then I will wait until I find a passport for £60 (or jolla or sailfish produce something good).

  15. Jess

    The problem isn't the OS

    It is that the general perception is that they have gone bust.

    A couple of days ago a BB Bold user told me she wanted a new one, but the phone shop said they don't exist any more.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: The problem isn't the OS

      It's been like that for years. Two years ago I was in a network's shop that had BlackBerry handsets on display. When I asked direct questions about the handsets the response was Apple this and Android that. Ended up walking away and bought one somewhere else.

  16. JLV Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sad

    iPhone 3, 4

    Nexus 5

    Z10

    what's my next phone's OS gonna be? running out of them.

    well there is always Winpho. More sad face. But seriously... cheap, few apps and long batteries, who knows?

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