BlackBerry Ltd , is starting to sell its latest smartphone, the PRIV, but the device seems to be falling short on its main promise. The firm’s CEO John Chen said that the name of the device stands for privacy, but it’s weak on that front according to early reviews. The PRIV is still far behind the likes of Apple Inc. in terms of data protection.
The major problem, according to Zack Whittaker who reviewed the device for ZDNet, is the OS that BlackBerry’s PRIV runs on. Not only is it on Android, a system not known for its privacy, it’s also on an outdated version of the software. BlackBerry says it will update the phone in the coming months, but it has lots of other problems to solve first.
BlackBerry falls behind Apple Inc.
In terms of personal privacy, the line that Whittaker takes when looking at the PRIV, it seems that the firm is far behind Apple. The lack of a fingerprint reader is the tech writer’s first concern, though that’s not exactly a major security change for most people. Fingerprint readers, in some circumstances, may actually be a weak link in a security system.
What’s much more important is the software on the PRIV.
Apps on the device are from the Google Play store, and they work in the same was as on other smart phones. Apps get all of the data they want, and users can have trouble blocking them from taking it. Other Android security solutions try to mitigate this problem by walling off apps, or changing the format in which data is exported.
Apple , on the other hand, has a much better record in terms of keeping user data away from app makers. Part of the reason for that is simply that Apple doesn’t care all that much about your data.
There has been a lot of talk of NSA spying on Apple phones, and that’s worth consideration, but the firm keeps user info secret from app makers. That’s something that the PRIV has trouble doing.
BlackBerry’s PRIV does have some advanced security features that aren’t on other Android phones. Data is encrypted, and the firm’s DTEC security center gives user a place to see how their data is being secured. Data has been encrypted on the iPhone since last year, and DTEC isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
DTEC tracks when apps take a look at your data, but it doesn’t stop them from doing so. Whittaker, succinctly, describes the app by analogy “the police turning up at your door saying you got burgled isn’t effective law enforcement. It’s stating a fact, and hoping you feel reassured by it.”
The kernel on the BlackBerry PRIV is supposed to be secured from tampering, but we’ll have to wait for third party info about that system before we find out if it really works.
The PRIV may have some advantages over other Android phones in terms of security, but it doesn’t seem to have much over Apple. That’s the firm that dominates quite a lot of the enterprise market, and the one that BlackBerry would need to displace in order to get back to a thriving hardware business.
Who wants to buy a BlackBerry PRIV?
If Apple is so far ahead in terms of security, who is going to want to buy a PRIV from BlackBerry? What does a phone named for an attribute it doesn’t have, in relative terms at least, have to offer to the world?
That’s a question that BlackBerry is going to have to answer in the coming weeks. We won’t see any details about sales of the PRIV for quite a while. BlackBerry will reveal its next quarterly earnings numbers in December. Once the date arrives we’ll be able to get a feel for the firm’s outlook on the PRIV and whether it’s going to be the last handset the phone ever makes.
If Apple offers a more advanced security solution, and BlackBerry will support iOS in the office, it seems that only personal preference will drive the PRIV. As sales show, that’s not area that Waterloo excels in.
BlackBerry has a very limited research budget and it tried to use that to turn an OS known for lack of security into a privacy sales pitch. It seems, thus far, that the firm has failed. We’ll have to wait to see the sales numbers before we know for sure.