TCL Will Continue BlackBerry’s Branded Smartphones; Signs Exclusive Deal To Make, Sell BB Phones


Starting this year, China's TCL Communication Technology Holding Ltd. will make and sell BlackBerry-branded mobile devices globally, following the Canadian company's announcement of halting its phone production while accelerating its services and software business.

The global deal agreement states that TCL will "design, manufacture, sell, and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices." Blackberry, on the other hand, will "continue to control and develop its security and software solutions, serve its customers and maintain trusted BlackBerry security software," according to the official press release.

The Chinese hardware maker behind the Alcatel brand has produced handsets for BlackBerry, such as the DTEK50 and DTEK60 phones that are rebadged versions of OEMed devices. Now, TCL Communication will move to manage all sales and distribution of future Blackberry phones while serving as a global distributor, Tech Crunch reported.

The said partnership, which is BlackBerry's first global licensing agreement expanding on its existing relationship with TCL, will enable future TCL smartphones to carry BlackBerry's security software and service suite and with the company still providing the security, apps and customer support.

However, the semi-exclusive deal tagged as "global" will have exemptions such as big markets in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India or Indonesia. According to The Verge, BlackBerry already has a licensing agreement situated in Indonesia, and is currently working on another deal with an Indian company.

In 2009, Blackberry Company marked 20 percent of the global smartphone market, which plummeted to 0.1 percent, the lowest in its market share loss for several years. After the dimming spotlight for the smartphone market of BlackBerry, it transitioned to its software and services aspect that raked $156 million in its latest quarter, down from $166 million in the prior quarter.

TCL has a good reputation when it comes to resurrecting other companies' brands, such as buying the smartphone business of the French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel, which places as the 4th selling phone brand in North America today. In the past, the Chinese phone maker also bought the rights to the "Palm" brand from HP, although the ownership has not produced any devices yet.

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