Here's why BlackBerry should load the KEY2 with Microsoft software
If two companies ever deserved each other they're Microsoft and BlackBerry.
The battle over the best Android phone heated up this week again with the entirely-expected announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Garnering less interest is the struggling BlackBerry, which recently released its keyboard-centric KEY2, which our Xbox Editor Jez Corden positively reviewed.
I, too, have been using the KEY2 for a few weeks, and like it quite a bit. But I'm confused as to why Microsoft and BlackBerry aren't working more closely on this phone. Because they should be.
Productivity, security, and business
I was at the BlackBerry announcement in New York City for the KEY2 and what struck me was how similar its message is compared to Microsoft's. The focus of the KEY2 is letting you get things done quickly and securely while using familiar BlackBerry hardware (even if it is outsourced to device maker TCL) and a physical keyboard.
Little bits of the KEY2 all revolved around the idea of safekeeping. For example:
- Its DTEK security checker.
- Privacy Shade makes it hard for onlookers to read your display.
- Redactor mode to block sensitive material.
- Send photos to a locker, prevent cloud saves.
- A locker to hide and secure apps, documents, and photos.
You can read the rest for yourself in CrackBerry's in-depth review. The point is the KEY2 does wonders for Android and security in such a way that those who work in sensitive areas for a job can feel much safer and more confident in its data protection.
The broader theme is the KEY2 is not a flashy phone, it's not a consumer-focused Galaxy S9-killer. Heck, it's not even that much of a bargain compared to a OnePlus – but it's a real business phone, built with security and a focus on getting work done when mobile.
Stop me if you heard this before ... but that sounds like Microsoft too.
BlackBerry KEY2 + Microsoft software = obvious
When I spoke to BlackBerry during the KEY2 launch event, the representatives had no answer as to why they don't work more closely with Microsoft.
Microsoft is known to have quite a few apps for Android including its Launcher, Skype, GroupMe, Office suite, Authenticator, OneDrive, Teams, Edge, Outlook, Wunderlist, To-Do, OneNote, Office Lens, and Remote Desktop. You wouldn't be wrong to say that those apps all have productivity in common.
So why not marry that suite of software to the KEY2's hardware and security features?
Many KEY2 users will install at least some of those apps, as they're quite hard to escape from if you work for a large company or are managed by an IT department.
There is a precedent for this, too. Microsoft and Samsung bizarrely "teamed up" to sell the Galaxy S8 with preinstalled apps (well, someone at a Microsoft Store did it for you). The so-called "Microsoft Edition" of that phone made less sense than Microsoft doing the same with BlackBerry – at least those two companies are aligned more closely in the enterprise.
Microsoft even sold the Galaxy S8 in its Microsoft Stores. Redmond also sold the Razer Phone, too, so why not the KEY2? The KEY2 already has a hard time finding any physical retailer to give it some shelf room.
And what about branding? Just stack Microsoft's name next to BlackBerry, and it's a big "duh" moment. Everyone would get why these two are working together.
Microsoft and BlackBerry deserve each other
Microsoft and BlackBerry are two companies that both royally screwed up in mobile. Each deserves an award for smartphone product mismanagement.
Because Microsoft has no phone game and BlackBerry is struggling to be relevant, these two companies should team up on a killer business-focused Android phone (e.g. KEY2 or KEY3). It doesn't even have to be fancy; just stick a suite of Microsoft business apps on the phone, maybe add some exclusive Microsoft feature, sell in Microsoft Stores with some Office 365 tie-in, and let BlackBerry (and TCL) handle the other stuff.
Would such a software partnership save BlackBerry or make Microsoft significantly more relevant in the smartphone space? I'm not sure. But both companies could benefit from the partnership. It would at least be more exciting and make the KEY2 that much more interesting for those who wear business suits.
Come on, Microsoft, BlackBerry is Canadian. Just ask them. Even if they turn you down, I'm sure they will be super polite about it.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
By Zac Bowden
And, by the way, what was wrong with Nokia? They are doing way better than BB in terms of innovation. That's a job well done considering Microsoft has stripped them completely and stole their key technologies and employees. They are literally born out of their ashes.
The fantasy is thinking Microsoft will ever be trusted again by consumers after what Nadella did with WP, WM, MS Band, and countless other consumer projects that left loyal supporters and consumers screwed over.
Even bigger fantasy is thinking that two failed brands like Microsoft and Blackberry can ever make a comeback in mobile.
But i don't see how selling oem phones with no Windows in the Microsoft Store benefits either party.
Having Microsoft install the software in your blackberry for you as opposed to you doing it yourself ...i can't see the benefit. But I'll take that i have comprehension challenges as you've advised.
I think something like this would be fun to try out!
What MS did to the old Nokia was a corporate crime but I have moved on somewhat at this point. I keep my old 930 on its wireless charger as an alarm clock and sometimes think about trying it out again ,but am now so used to google pay I don’t think I could revert without a digital payment solution included. I feel trapped into Google or Apple and this is entirely the fault of MS. The 8110 with WhatsApp may be the only realistic third option if it ever transpires.
Nokia or HMD are trying hard in face of fierce competition. Their lineup of phone products is broad and growing and I really hope they prosper to provide us all with options to break the current duopoly and restore themselves post MS’s screwups.
I write this on an IPad I bought a few months ago after reluctantly conceding that it’s the best tablet available (But now there is the surface go.😑)
Surprised that we are now entertaining these fantasies. Microsoft finished all the goodwill we had for her phones. That device market is closed to them now.
I want a Windows Phone with a Microsoft OS (W10M or whatever).
Would I buy a Blackberry with a heavy, I mean heavy Microsoft integration?
Make it look and be a different droid experience where you don't even know you're wearing that old pair of boots.
What you wish for with Android is nice and all but I don't think Google will allow that and just put a wedge between that plan (like they did with Windows Phone with the Youtube blockade etc). Google has its claws firm in Android and even prevented their partner companies from starting their own Android forks.
Atm my dream phone would be a blackberry Priv like phone at ~6-6.5 inch with Windows 10 & telephone-like features/whatsapp on it. That will likely not happen though. x)