BlackBerry phones could be dead as manufacturer says it will stop sales

BlackBerry phones could finally be dead after the manufacturer said it will stop selling the era-defining handsets.

The devices – famous for their hardware keyboard and status as the phone of choice for high-powered executives in the 2000s – have suffered difficult times in recent years, after being squeezed out by iPhone and Android competitors.

In 2016, Chinese firm TCL entered into an agreement that would see it make phones under the famous name, many of which included the same branding and hardware features that made BlackBerry so well-known.

But now TCL says it wil stop selling the BlackBerry handsets at the end of August, and that it will be cutting off software support in 2022.

That makes it likely that the BlackBerry name on phones will die out. BBM, the equally famous messaging app that came on the phones, was already shut down last year.

The company ended its own in-house device development before entering into the deal with TCL in late 2016, releasing a number of new smartphones since with limited critical success.

In a statement posted to the BlackBerry Mobile Twitter page, the two companies said that “as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices”.

“TCL Communication has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices, however TCL Communication will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty service until August 31, 2022 – or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased,” it continued.

“The future is bright for both TCL Communication and BlackBerry Limited, and we hope you’ll continue to support both as we move ahead on our respective paths.”

BlackBerry has since moved into cybersecurity and technology around the internet of things – including software designed to be used in connected cars.

TCL is best known as a TV manufacturer, but also makes a number of other appliances and mobile phones.

Neither company has commented further, and it is not yet known if BlackBerry plans to enter into an agreement with another firm to continue manufacturing mobile devices carrying its name.

Additional reporting by agencies

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