- Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
- TCL Communication, the electronics maker that distributes BlackBerry’s current smartphones, said it will stop selling BlackBerry phones later this year.
- The company no longer retains the rights to sell, design, or manufacture BlackBerry phones as of August 31, the company said.
- But it will still support the current portfolio of BlackBerry devices through February 2022.
- It marks the end of an era for BlackBerry, which has struggled to maintain a presence in the mobile phone industry as the iPhone and rival Android phones have risen to prominence.
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BlackBerry helped lay the foundation for the modern smartphone with its keyboard-wielding mobile devices. But 2020 may mark the end of the BlackBerry brand as it relates to mobile phones, considering one of the company’s biggest partners has said it will stop producing phones under the BlackBerry moniker later this year.
Electronics maker TCL Communication, which distributes phones like the BlackBerry Key2 and BlackBerry Motion, will stop selling BlackBerry phones as of August 31, according to a statement that BlackBerry Mobile posted to Twitter on Monday. That’s because TCL will no longer retain the rights to manufacture, design, or sell BlackBerry devices past that date.
BlackBerry did not say in its statement whether it will work with a different partner produce and sell devices, but it did say the company will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of devices until February 2022.
BlackBerry stopped making its own phones back in 2016, when it began working with other companies like TCL for hardware-related products.
TCL’s discontinuation of BlackBerry phones marks the end of an era for a smartphone brand that once claimed 20% of the global phone market. But as it struggled to keep pace with smartphones as the iPhone and Android rose to popularity, BlackBerry slowly faded out of relevancy when it came to the global smartphone market.
Today, Samsung, Huawei, and Apple largely dominate the global market for mobile devices, with Samsung accounting for 21.8% of the worldwide market, Huawei claiming 18.6%, and Apple comprising 13 of global shipments as of the third quarter of 2019, according to the International Data Corporation.
BlackBerry has since pivoted its focus to other industries within the tech sector, such as enterprise platforms, cybersecurity tools, and automotive software. The company also shut down its once-popular messaging service, BBM, last May.
The announcement also comes as TCL has been expanding its own-self branding smartphone lineup. At the CES tech conference in January, for example, it showcased a new lineup of Android smartphones it plans to launch this year, as well as foldable concept phones.