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BlackBerry To Release Android Smartphone With Physical QWERTY-Equipped Keyboard

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BlackBerry never achieved the comeback it was hoping for with its BlackBerry 10 smartphone lineup. Now, a new report claims the company is planning a keyboard-equipped handset running Android.

When Apple launched the original iPhone in 2007, the smartphone market was dominated by BlackBerry and its army of QWERTY keyboard handsets like the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl. These smartphones were extremely popular in the corporate world, due to the security and management software used on the devices, as well as support for push email. Of course, the most popular and defining feature was the iconic physical QWERTY keyboard that graced the lower portion of the smartphone, making email and messaging a breeze.

BlackBerry, its fans and tech critics balked at the iPhone's all-touch design and onscreen keyboard. They predicted that Apple's smartphone would end up as a niche player in the smartphone world. That didn't end up happening. 

BlackBerry's former CEO, Jim Balsillie, recently revealed that he knew BlackBerry couldn't compete after the iPhone was introduced in 2007 and BlackBerry's buggy touchscreen device called the Storm had a "100 percent return rate."

"With Storm, we tried to do too much. It was a touch display, it was a clickable display, it had new applications, and it was all done in an incredibly short period of time and it blew up on us," Balsillie said. "That was the time I knew we couldn't compete on high end hardware."

As BlackBerry's market share continued to plunge, the company announced it would introduce a next-generation OS in the form of BlackBerry OS 10 to keep up with iOS and Android. The new OS and smartphones powered by BB10 never gained traction, and now a new report from Reuters claims that BlackBerry is planning on introducing a slide-out QWERTY-equipped smartphone that will swap BlackBerry OS 10 for Google's Android OS. Sources say the Android-powered BlackBerry smartphone is expected to go on sale in the fall.

It remains to be seen if adding Android to BlackBerry's mix will be a lifejacket for the drowning company.

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