After months of teasing and rumors surrounding the so-called BlackBerry Venice, company CEO John Chen officially announced the smartphone - officially called BlackBerry Priv - and the reason why it runs Android.

It's no big secret that BlackBerry fell far behind rivals on the smartphone market, despite its best efforts to regain some of that lost market share BlackBerry 10 devices. The Canadian company even strayed away from its iconic QWERTY keyboard with handsets such as the BlackBerry Z10, or went for an odd form factor with the square-ish BlackBerry Passport, but none of its BB10 OS devices proved to be a bestseller.

BlackBerry is now adjusting its strategy again and this time it breaks away from its own OS to embrace Google's mobile OS instead. Just as rumored, the BlackBerry Priv, previously dubbed the BlackBerry Venice, will be the company's first Android smartphone. Priv stands for "privacy" and "privilege." 

Company CEO John Chen formally announced the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv during BlackBerry's latest earnings report (PDF) and said it's working with Google to bring the best security and productivity features BlackBerry is famous for to the Android ecosystem.

Chen explains that the BlackBerry Priv QWERTY slider will serve as the solution to smartphone users who want more privacy on their device, as well as former BlackBerry users who wanted a wider app ecosystem, but miss the iconic BlackBerry physical keyboard. According to the CEO, the upcoming BlackBerry Android smartphone will offer everything, from choice to security, from privacy to productivity, and extending to Android plays an important role.

"Launching an Android device is a tremendous new market opportunity as we continue our focus on building a cross-platform strategy. It's a terrific proposition for dedicated Android users who are seeking greater productivity and powerful privacy features," Chen explains in a new company blog post. "And we are advancing our own platform, redefining the expectations of mobility in today's age of risk and cybercrime so that we can serve customers even better."

The CEO further points out how BlackBerry has been moving in this direction for the past couple of years, paving the way to an Android smartphone. BlackBerry has been perfecting its skills and offerings in terms of privacy, security and productivity, and then started lending that proficiency and innovation to other operating systems. The BlackBerry Priv Android smartphone is the next step in this direction.

Nevertheless, BlackBerry is by no means abandoning its BB10 smartphones or operating system. The company will still release new updates for BB10 "in the upcoming year" and it will not leave developers nor users out in the cold. 

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