TCL Communications secured the rights to design, market and sell BlackBerry-branded devices in early 2017. Since then, the Chinese company has released a couple of BlackBerry smartphones, including the KEYone and the Motion.
Loyal BlackBerry enthusiasts in Canada flocked to the KEYone, praising the return of its physical QWERTY keyboard. There have been several colour iterations of the KEYone, notably the Silver Edition, Black Edition and the upcoming Bronze Edition.
TCL has always been shy of reporting sales or shipped numbers. However, IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo has issued a report to clients noting that the KEYOne is now available in 50 countries through more than 110 carriers partners. Despite that, TCL has only shipped 850,000 units of the device throughout all of 2017, according to Jeronimo.
During an interview with MobileSyrup in January, TCL’s Jason Gerdon, associate director of global communications at BlackBerry Mobile, stated, “There is this expectation of an immediate windfall return, that somehow in less than a year we would ship millions upon millions of devices. We had said from last year we would be patient, deliberate and purposeful in how we build this out. Partnering with BlackBerry Limited is a long-term strategic investment for us, and we believe in the value of BlackBerry as a premium tier within our house brand strategy under TCL Communication. It’s proven a very worthwhile investment on our part to build that premium tier in our portfolio. Our deliberate approach is working.”
TCL is expected to unveil two new BlackBerry smartphones sometime “later this year.”