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BlackBerry sells fewer phones than expected

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BlackBerry's last hurrah?

BlackBerry sold fewer phones than expected in the last quarter, in the latest blow for the troubled smartphone maker.

During its investor conference call, the firm said it sold 600,000 phones in the last quarter, which is fewer than the 850,000 expected. It was even lower than the 700,000 sold in the quarter before that.

This despite the firm embracing Google's Android operating system for the Priv, its latest handset. The Priv went on sale in November, though only through a few networks. In early May, the phone will receive the update to Android Marshmallow, the latest version of the OS. Though that's unlikely to reverse BlackBerry's fortunes.

According to one analyst (quoted by CNET), the next few months could determine whether BlackBerry keeps selling phones.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen defended the results, saying that the firm had cut its operating loss by half.

"The path to profitability looks reasonable," he said on the call. BlackBerry needs to sell 3 million phones this year to break even. We have to admire Chen's optimism.

Read more: BlackBerry explains why the Priv is more secure than your Android phone

A lot is riding on the Priv. BlackBerry has backed Android in a big way – earlier this year, Chen said the firm would only release one or two more phones in the next 12 months, and that they too would run Android.

He also admitted that the high-end phone market is over saturated, and that the company would explore a mid-range device. While he didn't provide any more details, it looks like cheaper BlackBerries are on the way.

Let's hope they can help restore the company to profitability. It's had a dismal few years. It recently laid off 1,000 workers at its Canadian HQ, and has seen big-name services like WhatsApp and Facebook stop supporting it.

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