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Blackberry CEO John Chen gives BNN a sneak peek at Priv smartphone

BlackBerry (BB.TO)(BBRY.O)has been teasing customers with its plans for an android-powered slider smartphone for months. The company promised back in march that the device would be available sometime this year.

Now, as part of the company's second quarter financial results, CEO John Chen john confirmed the name of the handset - the BlackBerry “Priv” - and reiterated a planned release date later this year.

The Priv will have a curved, all-touch screen and a slide-out keyboard. Chen promises that the phone will be the most secure Android smartphone on the market. The “Priv” is a reference to Blackberry’s focus on protecting customer privacy, says Chen.

Unlike previous phones that run on BlackBerry’s own operating system, the “Priv” will be able to tap into Android’s existing app ecosystem.

He gave Amber Kanwar a sneak peek at the phone on Friday.

MOVING FROM AMAZON TO ANDROID 

Chen said the poor performance of Amazon.com Inc.’s own smartphone contributed to BlackBerry’s decision to begin selling a phone running Android.

BlackBerry made a bet that cutting a deal with Amazon to let its users access the e-commerce giant’s application store would keep them from leaving BlackBerry for the app-rich environments of Apple Inc. and Google Inc.’s Android. If more people had bought Amazon’s phone, developers would have made more applications for its app store, benefiting BlackBerry in the process, Chen said.

“I was dying to have Amazon be successful with their phone,” he said at a meeting with reporters at BlackBerry’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

That didn’t happen. Even after cutting its price to 99 cents U.S. three months after its debut, the Fire phone never caught on with consumers and Amazon stopped selling it earlier this month.

BlackBerry shipped 800,000 phones in the quarter ended Aug. 29, the fewest since at least 2007.

With files from wires

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