TCL will stop selling BlackBerry-branded phones in August
Despite the reputation carried by the “BlackBerry” name, the company has struggled to break out and succeed in the modern smartphone market. In 2016, BlackBerry opted instead to license out their name, letting other device manufacturers design the smartphones whilst reaping the benefits of the respected brand. TCL Communications took up the mantle on this one, though even still, their devices failed to attain commercial success. This isn’t an uncommon arrangement – TCL also sells devices under the Alcatel branding and HMD Global does it with the Nokia branding. That arrangement between the two companies is set to end though, as, in August 2020, TCL will stop selling BlackBerry-branded smartphones.
— BlackBerry Mobile (@BBMobile) February 3, 2020
Of course, that doesn’t mean that support will end for any BlackBerry devices that you may have recently purchased. They will continue to provide support (including customer service and warranty) until the 31st of August 2022. They will also provide it for longer if a region legally requires it to. TCL first announced its partnership with BlackBerry in December 2016, describing it as “long-term.” TCL was responsible for the design and manufacturing of the BlackBerry KEYone, Motion, KEY2, and KEY2 LE. While TCL provided the hardware and the designs, the “critical security and software features provided by BlackBerry Limited […] ensure these were genuine BlackBerry devices.” These devices were very much a joint effort, even if the BlackBerry brand appeared to stagnate as time went on.
In the wake of the news, TCL Communications may instead turn focus towards its own smartphone division. The TCL Plex launched at IFA in Berlin back in September, and it was the first TCL-branded smartphone. While it’s impossible to gauge its sales, it seemed like a solid first device for the company to launch. We’ll be keeping a close eye on TCL in the future, especially if this means more time for their own-branded smartphones.