The demise of BlackBerry has been long predicted. And now, today, it’s official: BlackBerry has signed its hardware rights over to TCL, making TCL the exclusive global manufacturer for BlackBerry phones. In other words, TCL is handling the hardware while BlackBerry focuses on software going forward.
BlackBerry does extremely well in the software game. So, if TCL ends up constructing and designing great hardware for the Canadian company, this may work out quite well for all parties involved, including the consumer.
The technicalities mean that TCL will design, manufacture and sell BlackBerry-branded phones, whereas BlackBerry will only be license its security software and service suite to TCL. Not only that, but TCL will be handling customer support of BlackBerry-branded phones, too.
So, going forward, TCL will be the sole manufacturer of BlackBerry-branded phones, except in a couple of countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. And that’s actually an intriguing exception, when you consider that some of the countries in that list were some of BlackBerry’s largest markets.
We don’t know all of the technical details on the next wave of BlackBerry-branded, but TCL-made smartphones, but we should hear more over the next couple of months.
We’ve got the press release below.
BlackBerry Secures Global Smart Phone Software and Brand Licensing Agreement with TCL Communication
WATERLOO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 15, 2016) – BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB) and TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (“TCL Communication”) today announced they have entered into a long-term licensing agreement, providing acceleration to BlackBerry’s transition into a security software and services company. Under the terms of the agreement, BlackBerry will license its security software and service suite, as well as related brand assets to TCL Communication who will design, manufacture, sell and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. BlackBerry will continue to control and develop its security and software solutions, serve its customers and maintain trusted BlackBerry security software, while TCL Communication will manage all sales and distribution and serve as a global distributor of new BlackBerry-branded mobile devices along with dedicated sales teams.
As BlackBerry recently announced, it is transitioning its handheld devices strategy to focus on continued software innovation – ultimately providing the most secure and comprehensive software for devices around the world, while working with third parties to develop hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry handset brand. The agreement with TCL Communication is BlackBerry’s first global licensing agreement and expands on its existing relationship, which led to the introduction of the DTEK50 and DTEK60 handsets on Android which deliver the standard of security that customers and partners trust.
“At TCL Communication, we are committed to creating the best portfolio solutions, while ensuring the quality support to consumers and enterprise users who trust the integrity of the BlackBerry device and the brand’s security leadership, coupled with the Android platform,” said Nicolas Zibell, CEO of TCL Communication. “Together with BlackBerry’s smartphone software platform, this partnership will strengthen our position in the global mobile market.”
The relationship between TCL Communication and BlackBerry builds upon their respective leadership positions in mobile communications, as well as existing work together on the DTEK50 and DTEK60 handsets. By working with TCL Communication, the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America and top-10 globally according to IDCi, BlackBerry is ensuring its branded devices will be available around the world.
“This agreement with TCL Communication represents a key step in our strategy to focus on putting the ‘smart in the phone’ by providing state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform that mobile users prefer and are comfortable with,” said Ralph Pini, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. “TCL Communication is the natural choice to license BlackBerry’s software and brand on a global scale. We successfully partnered with them on the DTEK series of secure smartphones and we’ve been impressed with their excellence in hardware design, development and manufacturing. With our unparalleled expertise in mobile security and software and TCL Communication’s vast global reach and consumer access, we are confident that BlackBerry-branded products developed and distributed by TCL Communication will address the needs of BlackBerry users and expand the availability of BlackBerry Secure products throughout the world.”
TCL Communication will be the exclusive global manufacturer and distributor for all BlackBerry-branded smartphones with the exception of the following countries: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Additional information on the product roadmap and availability of devices will be available in coming months.
BlackBerry is a mobile-native security software and services company dedicated to securing the enterprise of things. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company was founded in 1984 and operates in North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Africa. The Company trades under the ticker symbols “BB” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and “BBRY” on the NASDAQ. For more information, visit www.BlackBerry.com.
About TCL Communication
TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (TCT) with its North America headquarters based in Irvine, California, is a wholly owned company of TCL Corporation, a global consumer electronics brand with products currently sold in over 160 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. With a mobile handset product portfolio that includes devices from Alcatel and Blackberry, TCT is currently the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America. The company also operates nine R&D centers worldwide and employs over 13,500 people globally. For more information, please visit www.TCTUSA.com.
TCL is a registered trademark of TCL Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Alcatel is a trademark of Alcatel-Lucent used under license by TCL Communication.
BlackBerry and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of BlackBerry Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. BlackBerry is not responsible for any third-party products or services.
i Based on IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker – Q3 2016