BlackBerry breaks up with phone-maker TCL

Chinese electronics giant TCL will not release any more BlackBerry-branded phones, the company has announced.

In 2016, it signed a deal to produce BlackBerry-branded Android phones, after BlackBerry decided to stop making its own devices.

It released several contemporary Android phones featuring the classic BlackBerry keyboard.

However, in a statement it confirmed that the arrangement would come to an end in August 2020.

In 2016, BlackBerry decided to stop designing its own smartphones in-house after 14 years.

Once a market leader, the company struggled to keep pace with rival handsets produced by competitors such as Apple and Samsung.

It attempted to launch a new operating system called BlackBerry 10, but it failed to attract popular apps to its platform.

The company now focuses on software and cyber-security.

Under the agreement, TCL could release BlackBerry-branded handsets featuring the iconic keyboard, which BlackBerry has several patents for.

BlackBerry Limited provided apps and a security-enhanced version of the Android operating system for the devices, while TCL paid BlackBerry a royalty for each one sold.

Announcing the end of the agreement, TCL said it had been “blessed” to work with BlackBerry on the smartphones.

TCL released three phones with the famous keyboard during its partnership with BlackBerry.

The BlackBerry KeyOne faced teething troubles when some customers reported that their screen had fallen off.

The device was followed by the Key2 and the lower-cost Key2 LE.


“There is little doubt TCL has struggles with BlackBerry-branded devices despite producing some exciting designs,” said Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy.

“The world has moved on, and on-screen keyboards are now the defacto standard. Add to that big advances on the security of Android and Apple’s strong position in enterprise business and it is hard to have an optimistic outlook,” he told the BBC.

“Furthermore, TCL has made no secret of making a big push in 2020 with smartphones using its own brand. That is now likely the primary strategic focus for the business.”

In a statement, TCL said: “We were very excited and humbled to take on this challenge.

“What made these devices great wasn’t just the hardware developed and manufactured by TCL Communication, but also the critical security and software features provided by BlackBerry Limited to ensure these were genuine BlackBerry devices.

“The future is bright for both TCL Communication and BlackBerry Limited, and we hope you’ll continue to support both as we move ahead on our respective paths.”

Source: BBC

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