It’s official, BlackBerry won’t make smartphones anymore


21 Jun 2013
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Back in September, BlackBerry had announced that it was done designing and building smartphones and would rely on hardware partners in the future to build and sell BlackBerry branded phones. Today, the company has officially announced that now it will be TCL Communication, the company behind Alcatel brand of mobile devices, which will design and build smartphones with BlackBerry’s branding. TCL had already partnered with BlackBerry for its Android-powered smartphones, the DTEK50 and DTEK60.

Under the new agreement, BlackBerry will continue to control and develop its security and software solutions, while TCL Communication will manage all sales and distribution. TCL, the fourth-largest handset maker in North America, will be the exclusive global manufacturer and distributor for all BlackBerry-branded smartphones, except for countries including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia, which are key markets for the company. Although BlackBerry is promising to release more details about product roadmap and availability of devices in the coming months, we could expect the company to partner with some other hardware makers to release its smartphones in India.

Last year, BlackBerry CEO John Chen had announced that the company would exit the smartphone business completely if it wasn’t able to make profit. Despite the company’s attempts at resurrecting with a few smartphones, Blackberry’s fortune continued to appear bleak. In September, Chen officially announced, “The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital.”

One of the reasons for the downfall of the once-popular BlackBerry devices has been the company’s inability to catch up with the current app-based smartphone era. To reclaim its lost glory, BlackBerry also released its BB10 OS and later added support for Android apps. However, these efforts couldn’t help bring back the market position BlackBerry enjoyed earlier as the platform lacked quality apps and was marred with glitches. Its Priv smartphone, the first BlackBerry smartphone to run Android, which brought back the slider design with a touch-based display. However, the hefty price tag of Rs 62,990, didn’t have any takers. This was followed by the company’s DTEK series of smartphones which, again were powered by Android but included the DTEK 50 priced at Rs 21,990, an affordable option to suit consumer needs in India.

This comes amidst Google’s reverse approach with its Pixel brand of smartphones. Until last year, Google pushed forth its popular Android software through smartphones made by other manufacturers. This year, the company launched its first set of Pixel-branded smartphones, which continue to be built by other manufacturers but bear the company’s branding. Now that BlackBerry has officially announced its exit from making smartphones, it won’t mean the end of BlackBerry smartphones. The company will now continue to focus on its software and possibly be able to achieve some returns by outsourcing the job of device making.

It’s official, BlackBerry won’t make smartphones anymore
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