Back in 2016, BlackBerry officially dropped out of the hardware business, meaning the company will no longer be developing smartphones going forward and will instead focus on software. However, BlackBerry did continue to live on through licensing partnerships, with TCL notably developing and releasing BlackBerry smartphones over the last few years. Now that deal is also coming to an end, with TCL announcing that it will stop making BlackBerry phones.
The deal was similar to the licensing agreement between Nokia and HMD Global. Essentially, TCL gets to use the BlackBerry name and BlackBerry’s software and in return, TCL has a more marketable product to sell. However, this will no longer be the case from September 2020.
Today, TCL Communications announced that it will no longer be making or selling BlackBerry branded smartphones as of the 31st of August 2020. Existing devices will continue to be supported but so far, it looks like the licensing agreement won’t be renewed and as a result, TCL and BlackBerry’s partnership will be over.
BlackBerry may well continue to try and make money via licensing, so another phone maker may pick up the torch from here. For at least some amount of time though, BlackBerry phones will disappear again.
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KitGuru Says: The TCL series of BlackBerry devices weren’t exactly big hits, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise. I do wonder if a new manufacturing partner will step in before the end of the year though.