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BlackBerry Pins Hopes for First Android Device Priv on Security Cachet

BlackBerry Ltd. BBRY 2.88 % , struggling to revive its moribund smartphone business, is betting its expertise in mobile security will help distinguish the company’s first Android device from a crowded field.

BlackBerry expects to start shipping its new Priv later this month, marking a strategic shift for the fallen technology star. The company relied on its own operating system and qwerty keyboard to once dominate the smartphone market by offering secure devices that made typing and emailing easier for bankers, lawyers and other professionals.

But as consumers moved on to the sleeker designs and greater number of apps offered by alternative devices, BlackBerry’s market share fell to a level that is pushing the Waterloo, Ontario, company to adopt the most widely used smartphone operating system to attract new customers.

The Priv is meant to stand out among rival Android phones by incorporating BlackBerry’s encryption technology that is still considered the gold standard for mobile security by many governments and industries, and its productivity tools such as the company’s unified inbox that brings together a user’s email, text and other messages in one place. Applying this technology to Android is significant because BlackBerry had previously indicated that its own operating system was the best platform for offering those advantages and a move to Android could undermine that.

The challenge for the Canadian company is persuading consumers and businesses to buy a premium-priced phone when dominant smartphone makers Apple Inc. AAPL 1.41 % and Samsung Electronics Co. SSNHZ 0.00 % are adding more security to their latest handsets, and more employers let workers use their personal smartphones on the job, some analysts and industry executives say.

“The percentage of [Apple] devices under management continues to increase,” among...