BlackBerry Key2

TCL confirms the end of BlackBerry smartphones

The end of BlackBerry phones (again)

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TCL officially confirmed today that they will no longer design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry branded mobile devices.

TCL’s license rights expired this year, and unsurprisingly, the company obviously is not renewing.

The company confirmed that as of August 31, 2020, they will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. However, customer service and warranty service for existing devices will run through August 2022, or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased.

TCL said in a statement,

When TCL Communication announced in December 2016 that we had entered into a brand licensing and technology support agreement with BlackBerry Limited to continue making new, modern BlackBerry smartphones available globally, we were very excited and humbled to take on this challenge.

Indeed, our KEY Series smartphones, starting with KEYone, were highly anticipated by the BlackBerry community. 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 support of BlackBerry Limited was an essential element to bringing devices like BlackBerry KEYOne, Motion, KEY2, and KEY2 LE to life, and we’re proud to have partnered with them these past few years on those projects.

Existing BlackBerry users will be disappointed but they really can’t be too surprised. TCL has been quiet for some time regarding BlackBerry smartphones and it is fair to say that most intelligent BlackBerry users were expecting this news – at some point this year.

The only comfort for them is that the speculation is over and TCL have confirmed the situation clearly.

TCL added,

For those of us at TCL Communication who were blessed enough to work on BlackBerry Mobile, we want to thank all our partners, customers, and the BlackBerry fan community for their support over these past few years. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many fans from all over the world during our world-tour stops. 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.

From everyone who worked on the BlackBerry Mobile team at TCL Communication over the years, we want to say “thank you” for allowing us to be part of this journey.

While TCL did give it a good shot – producing several good BlackBerry smartphones – their marketing was poor, their choice of partner was laughable and I don’t think they expected or realised just how tarnished the BlackBerry brand was when it came to smartphones.

Device sales jut never matched up to TCL’s expectations and at some point they must have realised that only selling to the converted was not a realistic business option.

TCL struggled to break through with any significant sales, falling into the large, and largely fragmented, “other” category in smartphone market share reports.

BlackBerry Key2

TCL also took to Twitter to say the following:

When TCL Communication announced in December 2016 that we had entered into a brand licensing and technology support agreement with BlackBerry Limited to continue making new, modern BlackBerry smartphones available globally we were very excited and humbled to take on this challenge. Indeed our KEY Series smartphones, starting with KEYone, were highly-anticipated by the BlackBerry community. 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 support of BlackBerry Limited was an essential element to bringing devices like BlackBerry KEYone, Motion, KEY2 and KEY2 LE to life and we’re proud to have partnered with them these past few years on those projects.

We do regret to share however that as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. TCL Communication has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices, however TCL Communication will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty service until August 31, 2022 – or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased. Further details can be found at www.blackberrymobile.com or by phoning customer support at the numbers found at https://blackberrymobile.com/hotline-and-service-center/.

For those of us at TCL Communication who were blessed enough to work on BlackBerry Mobile, we want to thank all our partners, customers and the BlackBerry fan community for their support over these past few years. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many fans from all over the world during our world tour stops. 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.

From everyone who worked on the BlackBerry Mobile team at TCL Communication over the years, we want to say ‘Thank You’ for allowing us to be part of this journey.

BlackBerry thanked TCL Communication “and their team for a successful partnership over the past few years.

Together we produced great things. Many thanks and appreciation to our BlackBerry community for your continued support.”

I would suspect that this is finally the end for BlackBerry smartphones, although you have to give BlackBerry CEO John Chen credit for at least trying not to give up totally on smartphones.

However, the harsh reality is that their licensing strategy for failing products and services has failed. They licensed out BBM to Emtek, who threw everything at BBM before eventually giving up and shutting the service down.

Chen did try to bring life back into smartphones by licensing them out to TCL but it was always going to be an uphill battle for them, one that they could not quite overcome.

It is possible that BlackBerry may attempt to license out smartphone manufacturing to another company, but who would really be interested! This just may be the end of an era.

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