BlackBerry Ends Partnership with TCL; Effective This August

Friday, 17 Apr, 2020

Without TCL making new phones, it's possible the BlackBerry brand will disappear for a moment.

It is unclear whether BlackBerry will partner with another production company to continue selling the devices.

BlackBerry's brand licensing agreement with TCL Communication is due to end on August 31 and the TCL has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices. Until August 2022, TCL will still provide customer and warranty support for its BlackBerry devices. The last BlackBerry phone prior to the TCL deal was the Priv.

TCL and BlackBerry have announced that they will be parting ways this August 31 after a three-year partnership that saw a resurgence in the BlackBerry brand.

The announcement also comes as TCL has been expanding its own-self branding smartphone lineup.

Another coincidence is that TCL Communications is now manufacturing smartphones under its own brand name, as reported by The Verge. But it was with the BlackBerry 850 Pager from 1999 that RIM started using the BlackBerry name. Distinct from competitors for its full QWERTY keyboard, BlackBerry smartphones fell out of public favour because of the rising popularity of the iPhone and other smartphones will full touch screen displays. When it announced it was licensing the brand back in December 2016, it was met with an equal mix of quizzical stares and snickers, as BlackBerry's heyday was long in the rearview mirror.

The author has never come forward, but the predictions made in the post have come true: the agreement is coming to an end.

With the KeyOne designed, manufactured, and sold by TCL, the essence of the physical keyboard that characterizes BlackBerry was maintained. BlackBerry Limited was responsible for providing apps and a security-enhanced version of the Android operating system for the devices, while TCL paid BlackBerry a royalty for each sold phone.

While potentially a loss for keyboard-loving smartphone users, BlackBerry itself no longer relies on mobile device sales for the bulk of its business.

In 2016, we said that the brand passed to TCL.