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A man is silhouetted against a video screen with the BlackBerry logo as he poses with a Blackberry Q10 in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, September 21, 2013. (© Dado Ruvic / Reuters)
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with the BlackBerry logo as he poses with a Blackberry Q10 in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, September 21, 2013. (© Dado Ruvic / Reuters)

BlackBerry unveils app licensing deal with Amazon Add to ...

BlackBerry has signed a deal it says will bring some 200,000 Android apps to BlackBerry users before the end of the year.

The smartphone-maker announced early Wednesday morning that it is partnering with online retail giant Amazon to give BlackBerry smartphone users access to Amazon’s app store. The licensing agreement takes effect this fall, and is timed to coincide with the release of the latest version of BlackBerry’s operating system.

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“You will be able to access popular apps such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft,” the company told its users on its official blog. “We’re excited to be working with Amazon to deliver the apps and content that you’ve been looking for. It’s an exciting new day for BlackBerry 10 device owners.”

BlackBerry said its own app store, BlackBerry World, will continue to function after the Amazon deal goes into effect. For years, many users have criticized BlackBerry World for having too few big-name apps and too many low-value ones.

With the Amazon deal, BlackBerry gets an instant benefit in an area where it has long lagged behind Apple and Google – the latter being the company that developed the Android operating system on which Amazon app store programs run. However it is decidedly unclear whether such a boost will be enough to help BlackBerry regain a significant share of the smartphone hardware market, especially given that the company is shifting focus from hardware to services and platforms.

BlackBerry’s Amazon deal goes beyond applications, and appears to signal an admission on BlackBerry’s part that its own content strategy has failed to gain traction. Under the licensing agreement, BlackBerry users will also be able to download music and video content through Amazon’s store – BlackBerry’s own video and music stores, however, will be shut down as of July 21.

The announcement comes on the same day Amazon is widely expected to unveil its own brand new smartphone, designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s myriad devices. It is not known whether BlackBerry played any role in the design of that device.

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