TCL carries flickering BlackBerry flame with new phone launch

Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:43pm EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - Blackberry Ltd (BB.TO: Quote) may have exited the device business, but fans of the pioneering email machine need not despair as Chinese smartphone maker TCL Communication TCCLF.PK has introduced its first Blackberry-licensed phone with the physical keyboard that was long its key allure.

The KEYone combines a touch display with a physical keyboard to give users more useable space for typing than a typical 5.5-inch all-touch smartphone, along with BlackBerry Ltd's security and software, TCL said.

TCL cut the new brand-licensing deal in December with BlackBerry Ltd., which now focuses on making the security software that was another key factor underpinning the Canadian company's phenomenal success in the pre-smartphone era and sustained it with corporate users as the world moved on to smartphones with other features.

The partnership helps address weaknesses for both companies: TCL gives BlackBerry a manufacturer that can still compete at global scale following a decade-long slide in BlackBerry sales, while TCL gains a new brand to shore up its own flagging growth in smartphones.

"We have worked closely with TCL to build security and the BlackBerry experience into every layer of KEYone, so the BlackBerry DNA remains very much in place," said Alex Thurber, general manager of BlackBerry Ltd's Mobility Solutions unit.

The new BlackBerry KEYone smartphone was unveiled here ahead of the Mobile World Congress, Europe's largest annual trade fair, on Saturday.

The first fruits of TCL's new product line carries a hefty price tag, which could limit its appeal to diehard fans of the device once known as the Crackberry.

The KEYone will be available in April and priced around 599 euros, $549 or 499 pounds, in line with premium phones from Apple (AAPL.O: Quote), Samsung (005930.KS: Quote) and Huawei [HWT.UL].

TCL, which sells its phones in 160 countries, did not specify which would be first to offer the KEYone.   Continued...

 
A man holds the new BlackBerry Key One during his presentation event before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 25, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea