TCL has big plans for BlackBerry

IDG News Service | Jan 4, 2017

The iconic BlackBerry handset with keyboard is making a comeback. Can TCL restore the brand to former glory?

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Could this handset reverse BlackBerry’s long decline?

Due later in 2017, it comes from TCL, a Chinese phone maker that recently took over development and production of hardware from the Canadian company. It runs Android and features the iconic BlackBerry keyboard, something much loved by BlackBerry fans.

And a new twist, the space bar has the fingerprint reader.

Starting with this handset, TCL has big plans for the brand.

Steve Cistulli, President, North America, TCL Communication
“We will create a full portfolio going forward that can manage to challenge both Apple and Samsung in the enterprise space.”

Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
“So, that’s a pretty big ambition, to take on Apple and Samsung. Are you confident that the BlackBerry brand still has that for the enterprise market?”

Steve Cistulli, President, North America, TCL Communication
“I do. I think today when you look at which EMM, MDM solutions are winning, you look at the Mobile Irons, the VMwares. BlackBerry is certainly one of the top solutions being implemented gloabbly”

And security is a key selling point. Even with TCL taking over hardware production, the software will continued to be developed and digitally signed in Canada. That will be important for its target customers.

Steve Cistulli, President, North America, TCL Communication
“We’ll be looking to the government sectors, number one, then banking and healthcare.“

A decade ago, BlackBerry was leading the smartphone market, but then came Apple and Android and a long slide began. TCL reckons the new phone can halt BlackBerry’s North American sales decline this year and even return the brand to growth in 2018.

It will also be available to consumers through carriers.