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Is this the end of BlackBerry?
Published on February 5, 2020 By Tatiora In Tech

Earlier this week, a single tweet signaled the upcoming conclusion of a partnership between TCL and BlackBerry. Due to continually slowing growth in the smartphone market, BlackBerry announced via Twitter on Monday that their 4-year partnership would conclude in August of this year. 

“We do regret to share however that as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices,” said a statement on the company’s Twitter page. “TCL Communications has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices.” 

Effectively, this statement suggests that this is the end of BlackBerry phones as we know them. At its peak, BlackBerry was a leader in the smartphone market, controlling nearly 50 percent of the US market and some 20 percent worldwide. Now, there hasn’t been a new device from BlackBerry since the Key2 LE released back in the summer of 2018, and its full-qwerty keyboard is losing its way against touchscreen phones.

TCL licensed the global rights to make BlackBerry-branded phones back in 2016 from BlackBerry Limited (formerly known as Research in Motion) following poor sales of the Priv and DTEK50. The tweet claims that they’ve lost the rights to design, manufacture, or sell BlackBerry mobile devices, presumably because they are unable or unwilling to renew the license. 

Two other companies (BB Merah Putih and Optiemus Infracom) also carry licenses to make BlackBerry-branded phones, but those licenses are restricted to devices that will be for sale in India and Indonesia, not the US. It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether or not those licenses are expiring as well.

TCL will continue to provide support for existing devices until August of 2022, so if you’re using a BlackBerry currently don’t panic just yet. Currently, neither BlackBerry nor TCL have released any further information regarding their statement, though the thanks they offered the employees and teams of people who have worked on the devices in the past suggests that it’s truly the end of the line.

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