It’s time to make a few things clear: there’s BlackBerry the software company, and there’s BlackBerry Mobile, the hardware vendor.
As we move into the month of CrackBerry’s 10-year anniversary, and the return of CrackBerry Kevin, we thought it was important to highlight a few key differences between the BlackBerry we knew and the one we’re likely going to continue writing about.
Late last year, BlackBerry signed a software and brand licensing deal with TCL granting them the rights to design, manufacture, sell and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. Additionally, TCL is managing all sales and distribution and will serve as a global distributor of new BlackBerry-branded mobile devices along with their dedicated sales teams. Effectively, this means TCL is designing, building and marketing BlackBerry Smartphones for themselves, not for BlackBerry. BlackBerry is supporting TCL in this partnership, but TCL is now driving the Android-powered BlackBerry Smartphone train in almost all markets globally.
This helps distinguish BlackBerry the software company — yes, the one that still builds secure Android versions and various Android apps in addition to mobile device management solutions across multiple platforms — from the TCL-owned BlackBerry Mobile, which builds the actual phone hardware.
Again, from CrackBerry:
When it comes to Mercury, the accurate statement would be to say that BlackBerry Mobile is officially unveiling the BlackBerry Mercury at Mobile World Congress on February 25th. It would be incorrect to say that BlackBerry is.
From a journalistic perspective, this is an important distinction, because the people we’re dealing with at BlackBerry Mobile — owned by TCL — are different from those at BlackBerry proper. But for you, the user, it’s also important, since BlackBerry Mobile now controls the facilities for building BlackBerry hardware, and the two companies will work together on software updates. While it’s not clear at this point whether BlackBerry itself will control the bulk of the software update or if that will be under the purview of BB Mobile, the companies have assured us that the BlackBerry proper will have final say over the digital signature of each build, ensuring the high mark of security is maintained on all future devices.
It’s important for the user to know the difference, since BlackBerry Mobile now controls the facilities for building BlackBerry hardware, and the two companies will work together on software updates.
BlackBerry ‘Mercury’ will be a test of that new relationship; BlackBerry itself has, for a number of years now, distanced itself from the actual production of its smartphones, but now that responsibility is entirely out of its hands. TCL, the company that has turned Alcatel (formerly Alcatel OneTouch) into a reputable hardware vendor across the world, knows what it’s doing, and based on the devices we’ve used — the DTEK50 and DTEK60 — and ones we’re about to — ‘Mercury’ — we’re pretty confident things are only going to get better for the BlackBerry hardware brand in 2017 and beyond.
Cleaning up the Confusion: What you need to know about BlackBerry and BlackBerry Mobile