BlackBerry Priv Android-based Smartphone
Deja vu all over again. BlackBerry Priv features a slider keyboard (expected), yet runs Android (unexpected).

It’s official. BlackBerry is launching an Android-based smartphone.

Called Priv, it features the hallmark of classic BlackBerry design: an honest-to-goodness, physical slider keyboard. We saw the Priv briefly earlier this year, but this confirms that it is indeed real, and that BlackBerry is making a bet on Android.

How can BlackBerry position itself in a crowded marketplace of Android phones?

According to CEO John Chen, who wrote a brief commentary today on CNBC, privacy will be a key feature that customers will want. Chen uses the word “privacy” no fewer than eight times to emphasize his point. The idea is that Android brings apps and a broad ecosystem, while BlackBerry brings “the best of BlackBerry security and productivity.”

Chen also reassured loyalists that the company’s commitment to its “workhorse,” the BlackBerry 10 operating system, will continue in earnest. That demand “is not going away” he noted in the article.

ALSO SEE: Can BlackBerry turn around its consumer business with this Android-based phone?

Clearly, as many of us were suspecting, BlackBerry is largely re-positioning itself as a software company. If Chen and his team are successufy it could possibly be a huge turnaround story.

Chen’s commentary can be read on CNBC.

Silicon Valley Tech, News, ReviewsIn His Words: CEO John Chen

“BlackBerry is a new company. We have new life. And we plan to continue to surprise our customers and the industry. This is just the latest move along that path.”

As the relatively new CEO (November 2013), I think John Chen is doing a terrific job. I’m not so sure about the name “Priv” (ships this year, price not announced), but that appears a mere detail when the real story is right before us: BlackBerry is anything but dead.