BlackBerry CEO John Chen struggles to demonstrate the company’s new Android slider

John Chen

John Chen

Last week, BlackBerry confirmed plans to launch the Priv: an Android-powered slider smartphone that it says combines the best features of Google’s mobile OS with “BlackBerry security and productivity.”

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv

It’s a sensible selling point, but as this hands-on with the Priv featuring BlackBerry CEO John Chen shows, the Android operating system isn’t familiar territory for the company.

Chen repeatedly says that the Priv “runs Google,” and falters during the demonstration, opening up Chrome (which is slow to respond) before closing the app when realizing the phone isn’t logged in to a Google account.

Impromptu demos of this sort can be difficult, and if Chen wasn’t prepared to talk through the phone’s features (as the absence of a logged-in device suggests), it’s understandable that he might stumble a little.

However, not being able to correctly name Google’s operating system — even under pressure — is less excusable, and perhaps symbolic of BlackBerry’s current difficulties.

While the company is confident in delivering enterprise devices and services, it’s still uncertain in the consumer sector.

Chen’s lack of familiarity with Android doesn’t necessarily reflect company-wide expertise, but we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the Priv itself to really judge BlackBerry’s success here.

The company says we’ll be hearing more about the 5.5-inch device in the coming weeks, with the phone hitting stores “late in the calendar year.”

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