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TCL confirms it won’t be making any more BlackBerries

Dead and BlackBuried

Back in 2016, many were reporting the end of the road for what was once the world’s most successful smartphone: the BlackBerry. The company had taken the hint from dwindling sales and decided to concentrate on other things like software for driverless cars. 

It was given a stay of execution by TCL Communication: the Chinese company behind budget brand Alcatel. TCL licenced the brand name from BlackBerry Limited and produced its own range of BlackBerry branded smartphones to keep the physical keyboard party alive.
The phones were pretty good, if quite overpriced considering their internals. But clearly they weren’t setting the world alight in terms of sales, because TCL has confirmed that it won’t be making any more.
“As of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices,” the company wrote in a statement attached to a tweet. “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’s entirely possible that other companies will jump at the chance to licence the BlackBerry name, but TCL’s experience may prove offputting. It really does appear that the world has moved on from physical keyboards across the board. For a time, Samsung manufactured cases for its flagship phones which brought back a keyboard on the outside, but they seem to have dried up too, last seen for the Galaxy S8 back in 2017.
It’s a pity though, as TCL had a number of neat innovations on the software side which weren’t replicated elsewhere. Privacy Shade, for example would turn the entire screen black, except for a single clear line so you could read through sensitive emails without worrying about prying eyes.
“For those of us at TCL Communication who were blessed enough to work on BlackBerry Mobile, we want to thank all our partners, customers and the BlackBerry fan community for their support over these past few years,” the company added. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many fans from all over the world during our world tour stops.
“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.”
Maybe, but as far as BlackBerry handsets go, the future looks considerably darker.

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