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BlackBerry in talks with Optiemus for smartphone licensing deal in India


21 Jun 2013
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BlackBerry is in advanced talks with India’s Optiemus Infracom to license its software, services and brand for producing smartphones for the local market, people aware of the development said.

The two parties Monday signed a distribution and promotion pact, under which Optiemus will promote and distribute BlackBerry smartphones in India.

“There has been a lot of back and forth on the agreement. Both the parties are discussing various clauses, which is taking time,” a person aware of the talks told ET.

In September this year, the Canadian enterprise software and handset company had said that it would completely stop designing its phones and instead license out the BlackBerry brand to other manufacturers.

The deal for India, if goes through, will be the second such agreement globally for BlackBerry. The company has already formed a joint venture - PT BB Merah Putih - to license the company’s software and services for the production of handsets for the Indonesian market. BlackBerry’s Chief Executive Officer John Chen had then said that the company was working on similar deals in China and India.

Speaking to ET, Alex Thurber, senior vice president, global device sales at BlackBerry said that the company is looking for opportunities around the world for licensing deals. “As they [opportunities] arise, we will definitely pursue them and see what’s available.”

He declined to comment on the specific licensing pact for the India market but said that Blackberry is talking to all types of certified companies for a local licensing deal.

Hardip Singh, executive director of Optiemus Infracom, in a separate conversation with ET, said that the company has nothing to announce currently. He however added that the company “is in the business of manufacturing and it makes sense to keep talking to everyone.”

Optiemus currently has two facilities in Noida Sector 63 with a combined annual capacity of 14.5 million units. One of these two facilities is established in partnership with Wistron with a capacity of 8 million units. It makes devices for a number of Chinese, Indian and Taiwanese brands out of these facilities.

Speaking on the licensing model, Thurber said that BlackBerry is excited as it allows the company to touch individual markets with local approach. “Obviously the manufacture in the country has the local knowledge, which is important, and we are involved to make it meets our brand standards and that we can ensure hardware integrity and that it works properly with the software. Something I learnt in global business is that you need to have global consistency and local flavor in devices,” he added.

The executive said that BlackBerry has a great deal of intellectual property, which it is looking to monetize.

BlackBerry is trying to regain a foothold in the fast-growing but highly competitive Indian smartphone market with the launch of two new Android-powered smartphones—DTEK50 and DTEK 60, priced at Rs 21,990 and Rs 46,990, respectively. These devices are co-developed by BlackBerry and China’s TCL.

BlackBerry India Managing Director Narendra Nayak said that BlackBerry brand still has very positive recall in the market and said that the two new devices will help the Canadian firm expand presence across both enterprise and consumer segments.

BlackBerry: BlackBerry in talks with Optiemus for smartphone licensing deal in India - ET Telecom
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