After a long partnership and a trade-in spat, BlackBerry severs ties with T-Mobile

BlackBerry has dropped T-Mobile, the US fast-growing network, from its list of sales partners.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Following the recent feud between BlackBerry CEO John Chen and T-Mobile, the Canadian company has ended its licensing agreement with the US' fourth-largest carrier.

BlackBerry announced the move on Tuesday, ahead of the April 25 expiry of T-Mobile's license to sell BlackBerry products.

Given the recent spat between the two companies over a T-Mobile offer that encouraged users to trade-in their BlackBerrys that Chen deemed an "inappropriate and ill-conceived", the announcement isn't entirely surprising. Even before the offer launched, the carrier had already pulled BlackBerry devices from its store shelves. Still, it's a dramatic move for a handset maker that ultimately needs carrier support to make a comeback.

According to Chen, ending its partnership with T-Mobile comes with some regret, but BlackBerry is holding the door open for a future deal — that is, if BlackBerry comes out on the better side of the even chances Chen believes it has of successfully navigating a turnaround.

"BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years. Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers," Chen said in a statement.

"We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned. We are deeply grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers and will do everything in our power to provide continued support with your existing carrier or ensure a smooth transition to our other carrier partners."

While the pair's relationship hasn't been rosy of late, BlackBerry would be wise to keep the door open to the company given T-Mobile's recent efforts to grab customers from rival operators, which saw its monthly subscribers grow by 869,000 in the last quarter of 2013

BlackBerry said it will work with T-Mobile to support the carrier's subscribers that have BlackBerry devices and those that purchase the last remaining phones in T-Mobile's inventory.

BlackBerry is also working with T-Mobile's rivals to provide consumers and businesses with "alternatives" should they wish to move to one of the carriers BlackBerry still works with, including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

BlackBerry sold 3.4 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2013. However, two-thirds of those devices were its older BlackBerry 7 models, the company recently reported

The company sold about 18 million devices in 2013, just over half the number it sold in 2012. Over the year it has seen its smartphone market share slide from five percent globally to just 1.2 percent, according to recent figures from Gartner.

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