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Last Friday, British chanteuse and pop-music phenomenon Adele released the first video from her full album, "Hello." It was filmed entirely in sepia tones, featured the expected heart-felt crooning, and one very prominent flip phone. That flip phone made headlines by Billboard, ABC, and CNet.
But if there's a vintage cell phone revival on the horizon, it's not going to be for the old flip phones. It'll be for BlackBerry, who is attempting to top the smartphone charts once again with its new Android Priv. And yes, it has the BlackBerry keyboard you've been missing all these years. Now it just needs a pop-diva sponsorship as well.
From Top of the Charts to Almost Dead
BlackBerry, you'll remember, was once every professional's first smartphone love. That love was sealed with a hexadecimal BlackBerry PIN. In the mid and late 2000s, Blackberry phones dominated the smartphone market with 50 percent of the market share in 2009. It was so popular it deservedly was nicknamed the "CrackBerry."
But things went sour. BlackBerry all but collapsed, losing almost $50 billion in value. The BlackBerry OS has just 0.3 percent of today's smartphone market.
BlackBerry Tries to Set Fire to the Rain
That's enough Adele for right now. What matters is that BlackBerry is back, giving it another go. BlackBerry's new Priv phone is out on November 6th and seems to have learned from the company's past mistakes. (Adele's new album, by the way, drops November 20th.) First, Priv has ditched the BlackBerry operating system. The BlackBerry 10 platform, generally considered a dud, has been replaced for Android's Lollipop. That will make it familiar to Android users and past BlackBerry loves alike.
BlackBerry did keep what matters, however: the keyboard. No longer will you have to peck away at some glass screen like some suburban teenager. The Priv has a real life QWERTY keyboard with actual keys. If you're a lawyer who uses a smartphone in your daily practice, that keyboard might be a lifesaver. We still miss the little clacking of our BlackBerry Curve. When it comes to typing, iPhones and Androids just don't compare.
BlackBerry Messenger will be back as well, so you can resurrect your BB PIN in spirit if not in reality. (The messenging service no longer needs a special code to communicate with others -- your BlackBerry ID will work.) The phone is tricked out in other ways as well. It's got a high definition screen, 3 gigs of memory, and a long-lasting battery.
Only time will tell if the Priv will win our lawyerly love once again. For $699 apiece, nostalgia enough won't make it worth the cost. If the Priv doesn't take off, it might be BlackBerry's swan song. CEO John Chen has said that if the company doesn't sell at least 5 million phones this year, it will simply drop out of the smartphone market.
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