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BlackBerry's first Android device, the Priv, goes on sale

The release of the BlackBerry Priv, the company's first Android device, could mark a pivotal moment for the smartphone maker as it tries to turn around its money-losing hardware division.

Shift to Android meant to address lack of apps, a big criticism levelled against BlackBerry

For the first time, BlackBerry is launching a device that will run on Google's Android system, not on its own operating software. (Graeme Roy/Canadian Press)

The stakes are high for BlackBerry as its first Android-powered device goes on sale today.

The release of the BlackBerry Priv could mark a pivotal moment for the smartphone maker as it tries to turn around its money-losing hardware division.

If the Priv is a sales flop, it's likely the Waterloo, Ont.-based company will exit the business of designing phones and turn attention to its software licensing and services division.

For the first time, BlackBerry is launching a device that will run on Google's Android system, not on its own operating software.

The change is intended to resolve one of the biggest criticisms levelled against BlackBerry — a lack of apps that left it behind its competitors in an era where customers increasingly use their phones to stream movies and post on social media.

BlackBerry has said advance orders for the Priv have been higher than those for the Passport, Classic and Leap devices, though it hasn't provided presales figures.

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