BlackBerry Phones: Not Dead Yet

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Though BlackBerry has bowed out of the smartphone business, BlackBerry devices will live on thanks to China's TCL.

BlackBerry has inked a "long term" deal with the Hong Kong-based electronics maker, under which TCL will "design, manufacture, sell, and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices." Under the agreement, BlackBerry will license its security software and services to TCL who will integrate them into new handsets.

This means that, going forward, TCL will be the exclusive manufacturer and distributor for all BlackBerry-branded smartphones, with the exception of those in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. The companies promised more information about upcoming products and availability "in the coming months." BlackBerry and TCL previously teamed up on two BlackBerry-branded Android handsets: the DTEK50 and DTEK60.

BlackBerry said this agreement accelerates its transition to a software and services provider. Unable to compete against Apple and Android phone makers, the company is transitioning away from making handheld devices to focus on software. As per the agreement, BlackBerry will continue to "control and develop" its security and software products while TCL will sell and distribute new BlackBerry-branded devices.

TCL is the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America and in the top 10 globally, the companies said, citing figures from IDC. "Together with BlackBerry's smartphone software platform, this partnership will strengthen our position in the global mobile market," the company's CEO, Nicolas Zibell, said in a statement.

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