TCL and BlackBerry brand licensing partnership to end in August
The once-respected BlackBerry is undergoing a slow death, and the last nail on the coffin may have been finalized this week. On February 4, mobile phone maker TCL Communications announced that the company will lose its BlackBerry brand license and will stop selling BlackBerry brand phones in August this year.
"We regret to inform you that from August 31, 2020, TCL Communications will no longer sell mobile devices of the BlackBerry brand. TCL Communications will not have the right to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices. Mobile (affiliated with TCL Communications) said in a statement.
BlackBerry Mobile said that TCL will continue to provide technical support for current BlackBerry phone users, including customer service and after-sales warranty services, until August 31, 2022.
It is not known whether BlackBerry will cooperate with other OEMs to continue to produce mobile devices, or if this will be the end of BlackBerry phones.
In the era of feature phones, BlackBerry once occupied 48% of the US market, and its iconic full keyboard and super security have won the hearts of the people. With the strong rise of iPhone and Android, full touch screen smartphones have become mainstream, and BlackBerry's market share has been eroded repeatedly.
TCL's collaboration with BlackBerry began in 2016. In the same year, after losing competition with Apple and Samsung in smart phones, BlackBerry officially announced that it would stop developing and producing smart phones. At the end of the year, BlackBerry and TCL Communications reached a brand licensing and technical support agreement. Under this agreement, TCL has obtained a BlackBerry technology patent and has been approved to produce and sell BlackBerry-branded phones.
After exiting the smartphone market, BlackBerry began focusing on the software and network security markets. In cooperation with TCL, BlackBerry provides applications and enhanced security versions of the Android operating system for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. TCL pays royalties for this.
In the era of the Symbian system, where Nokia is still the mobile phone overlord, BlackBerry enjoys a loyal fan in the mobile phone market with its unique full keyboard and unique security features. With the strong rise of Android, portable operation of touch screens, BlackBerry phones Entering the difficult times, he finally decided to withdraw from the mobile phone market in 2016, and then officially announced that he licensed the BlackBerry brand to TCL. From December of that year, TCL had the right to design and sell BlackBerry branded phones worldwide.
After taking over the BlackBerry brand, TCL has launched several BlackBerry phones, including DTEK60, BlackBerry KEYone and BlackBerry Key2. Among them, the BlackBerry Key launched in 2017 is a quite amazing product. This mobile phone adopts a mixed design style of touch screen + physical keyboard, which not only inherits the classic Blackberry elements but also incorporates the trend of new technologies, and is well received by the market.
But then, this phone has not achieved a comeback in sales. According to StrategyAnalytics data, TCL's BlackBerry and Alcatel brands accounted for only 1% of the global smartphone market. The reason is that although the design of the touch screen + physical keyboard is dazzling, it also leads to user confusion in operation. In addition, the 3999 yuan pricing is also difficult to attract users outside the fan base in the highly competitive Chinese market.
The sales of several mobile phones have not improved for many years. For many years, the market has also been rumored that TCL will change the BlackBerry brand. This rumor finally came true, and the cooperation between BlackBerry and TCL came to an end.
Will the BlackBerry exit the stage of history? Maybe not. According to Techcrunch, "Given that BlackBerry still has authorized partners in some specific markets, there may be something in front of us." In the Indonesian market, BlackBerry reached an agreement with BB Merah Putih to authorize the latter to produce and sell BlackBerry Mobile phone. The Indonesian market is also one of the largest markets for BlackBerry phones. In addition, in the Indian market BlackBerry is also cooperating with Indian telecommunications company Optiemus.
At the end of this statement, BlackBerry Mobile said that the future of TCL and BlackBerry will be bright, but did not disclose related future plans. Will BlackBerry launch a new phone in the Chinese market in the future? It is still a suspense.