Waterloo, Ontario’s BlackBerry Limited has announced a long-term licensing agreement with Chinese smartphone manufacturer TCL Communication to make and sell BlackBerry-branded mobile devices globally, more evidence of BlackBerry’s restructuring towards becoming a security- and software-focused company.
The once-giant of the cellphone industry has stated that by offloading its mobile production to TCL, the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America and top ten globally, BlackBerry will be able to keep its brand up and running worldwide.
“TCL Communication is the natural choice to license Blackberry’s software and brand on a global scale,” says Ralph Pini, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. “This agreement with TCL Communication represents a key step in our strategy to focus on putting the ‘smart in the phone’ by providing state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform that mobile users prefer and are comfortable with.”
The agreement will see TCL make and sell BlackBerry-branded smartphones in all countries except for a few markets where BlackBerry still maintains a significant share of the mobile market, namely, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. BlackBerry signed a deal in September giving Indonesia’s BB Merah Putih the rights to make and sell devices under its name in that country, the largest market for BlackBerrys.
This October, BlackBerry launched its last mobile device, the Android-based DTEK60, made under agreement with TCL. For its part, TCL has stated that product development under the BlackBerry name will boost its position globally.
“At TCL Communication, we are committed to creating the best portfolio solutions, while ensuring the quality support to consumers and enterprise users who trust the integrity of the BlackBerry device and the brand’s security leadership, coupled with the Android platform,” said Nicolas Zibell, CEO of TCL Communication. “Together with BlackBerry’s smartphone software platform, this partnership will strengthen our position in the global mobile market.”
Last week, BlackBerry unveiled its BlackBerry Secure software, which promises to address what it sees as a growing demand for security in the face of worldwide reports of hackers and data theft. “Business must be able to confidentially and reliably transmit sensitive data between endpoints to keep people, information and goods safe,” said John Chen, executive chairman and chief executive officer of BlackBerry. “BlackBerry is uniquely qualified to address this emerging market now because of our deep experience, industry leadership and ongoing product innovation that addresses future business needs.”
Beyond mobile devices and laptops, security is fast becoming a broader issue with the expansion of the so-called Internet of Things, where connected, smart appliances in homes and infrastructure in municipalities open up new possibilities for data breaches. “These things communicate with each other to enable smart product development, distribution and sales. These expanding connections are at the same time exponentially accelerating enterprise vulnerability,” says Marty Beard, chief operating officer at BlackBerry. “We’re no longer about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone, and in cars and in containers and in medical devices and wearables,” says Beard.
BlackBerry’s third-quarter fiscal 2017 results will be released Tuesday.