Everyone that grew up during the early years of this millennium knows BlackBerry. Often credited with being the world’s first maker of the mainstream smartphone, BlackBerry has seen many a heyday, once holding over 20 percent of the global smartphone market and shipping more than 50 million devices every year. However, the iconic Canadian company missed the turn in the millennium that saw the rest of the world run helter skelter towards Android and the dawn of touchscreen smartphones inspired by the equally iconic Steve Jobs. After ceasing to operate its own brand of smartphones in 2016 and licensing its brand to TCL Electronics, BlackBerry has announced on Twitter today that it is severing its partnership from TCL. With no news of a change of hands in partnership, this may well be the end of the way for BlackBerry, once a behemoth in the world of mobile devices.
The company has been in the dead, for all intents and purposes. Its last smartphone, the BlackBerry Key2 LE, was unveiled nearly two years ago. In comparison to the fanfare and near frantic hubbub that brands such as Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo and other leading smartphone players generate, the Key2 LE came — and went — in comparative silence, perhaps speaking a lot about the recent state of the brand. As a result, the announcement from BlackBerry does not come as a surprise. What does strike out, though, is that BlackBerry is not drawing a complete end to its future trysts with smartphones. The company’s statement on Twitter says that only its partnership with TCL has ended, suggesting that it remains open to the prospect of a new manufacturing partner, or a comeback in one way or another, in the coming years.
That said, it seems unlikely that BlackBerry smartphones will ever be a thing again. While the ever shifting nature of technology means one can never say never, it seems unlikely that the brand will ever scale the heights it once did in the world of mobile devices. BlackBerry Limited will continue operating as it has, and given today’s cybersecurity climate and the company’s expertise with enterprise security, may see it being in and around the smartphone industry via software only. As for its devices in the market today, BlackBerry has announced that its partner TCL will honour warranties and service requests in respective markets. No word, however, has been said about software updates going forward.
Is this the end of BlackBerry’s round two, then? Going by information available right now, it certainly feels so.