By Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd <BB.TO>, which has been coy about its ambitions to make a mainstream Android smartphone, fueled more speculation about its plans this week when it scooped up two Android-related domain names.
Several blog posts in the last two days have noted that the Canadian handset maker bought the domain names "AndroidSecured.com" and "AndroidSecured.net" this week. That spurred more chatter that it intends to build a device powered by Google Inc's <GOOGL.O> Android platform, which powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the globe.
The purchase of the domain names is particularly interesting since BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has declined to confirm a June Reuters report that said the company was planning an Android phone.
Speculation that BlackBerry will embrace Android was also spurred this week by a Digitimes report that said the company plans to roll out several models of Android-based phones.
In the past three weeks, however, Chen has said at least twice that he would only build an Android phone if he can "secure Android".
BlackBerry downplayed the significance of its domain name purchases in an email on Friday, saying: "BlackBerry frequently registers domain names to support the breadth of our cross-platform portfolio. Android is an important part of our cross-platform enterprise software strategy."
Indeed, one of the domains, "AndroidSecured.com", currently redirects users to a BlackBerry enterprise-focused site.
But that has not stopped a barrage of chatter on tech blogs about the purchases being part of BlackBerry's plan to build its own secure Android, going beyond supporting existing Android phones on its BES12 device-management system. BES12 allows corporate and government clients to secure Android-, iOS-, Windows- and BlackBerry-powered devices on their networks.
Under the leadership of Chen, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been pivoting toward software and device management as its recent devices, powered by its BlackBerry 10 software, have failed to win mass appeal. Analysts and tech gurus believe a move to Android could give BlackBerry's device arm a new lease on life.
The company already helps provide enhanced security for some of Samsung Electronics' <005930.KS> Android line-up. It also helped U.S. aircraft maker and defense contractor Boeing Co <BA.N> build Boeing Black, an ultrasecure Android smartphone for defense and security customers.
(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Peter Galloway)