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BlackBerry Breakthrough: Priv Expanding To All 4 Major Carriers

BlackBerry announced a major breakthrough in smartphone distribution in the U.S., bringing its Priv Android-based smartphone to Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The device has been available only through AT&T in the U.S.

The Priv will be available at the end of March through Verizon, January 26 through T-Mobile, and Sprint, though a specific date for Sprint wasn’t announced. “For North America, this means that Priv will soon be available from all seven leading mobile carriers, as it’s already available via AT&TRogersBell, and Telus,” the company said.

The Android 5.1.1-based Priv slider, launched last November, features touchscreen as well as slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It combines BlackBerry security features such as encryption and a BlackBerry physical keyboard with the ability to access the Google Play store’s extensive Android app library.

During a briefing with the press at CES, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said he expects Priv to be available in 31 countries in the next few quarters compared to four in the most recent quarter.

As for BlackBerry’s future in selling smartphones, he said, “I believe we can make money on devices and I think we are close.”

BlackBerry phone sales are running at around 700,000-800,000 per quarter, and the company has a “reasonable shot at getting to 5 million units,” Chen noted.