BlackBerry Severs Partnership With T-Mobile After iPhone Feud

Blackberry's Q10

BlackBerry has announced that it will not renew the T-Mobile (U.S.) license to sell its products when it expires on April 25 — ending a decade-plus relationship between the two companies.

“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,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a statement.

The announcement follows a spat, which kicked off when T-Mobile suggested that BlackBerry users trade-in their phones for iPhones — offering an unlocked iPhone 5s for just $500, a savings of $150 on the usual retail price.

A massive 94% of BlackBerry users reportedly traded in their phones for a different device during the promotion.

John Chen described BlackBerry as “outraged” by the offer, and labelled it a “clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.”

T-Mobile attempted to make amends by offering $200 credit toward the purchase of a new device to all BlackBerry users, plus an additional $50 for those getting new BB handsets.

The controversial ad that started the feud.

The controversial ad that started the feud.

Cult of Mac at the time described it as “a pretty ingenious way of turning negative press into good publicity” and a “fascinating social experiment of sorts.”

However the damage was clearly done as BlackBerry chose to sever ties with T-Mobile.

John Chen’s entire statement about the split is reproduced below:

Waterloo, ON – BlackBerry® Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB), a world leader in mobile communications, today announced that it will not renew the T-Mobile U.S., Inc. license to sell BlackBerry products when it expires on April 25, 2014.

BlackBerry customers on the T-Mobile network should not see any difference in their service or support.  BlackBerry will work closely with T-Mobile to provide the best possible customer service to any customer remaining on the T-Mobile U.S. network or to any customer purchasing devices from T-Mobile’s existing inventory. 

BlackBerry is also working closely with other carrier partners to provide consumers and business users with alternatives should they decide to transition to another carrier and remain with BlackBerry for their long-term device and service needs.  For additional details, offers and assistance, business customers and consumers can go to 

“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.  We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned,” said BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chair, John Chen.  “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.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    How is this a problem? Most consumers were already dumping their BlackBerry devices without there being any offers. BlackBerry is in a precarious financial position already and consumers needn’t be stuck with a product from a company that may be going out of business shortly. Chances are most consumers would be happier with some other smartphone than a BlackBerry even if it’s not an iPhone.

  • Rot Kelfer

    I almost feel sorry for Blackberry.

  • Len Williams

    What doesn’t make sense here is that Blackberry can’t afford to lose a chance to sell its devices to those who still want them. Cutting their ties with T-mobile gives them one less outlet to sell their phones, which is NOT a smart idea. Of course I realize how PO’d Blackberry’s CEO must be when T-mobile encourages BB users to dump BB phones for iPhones (a really bad PR move by T-mobile), but now is NOT the right time for BB to reduce the number of sales outlets it has (an equally bad move on BB’s part). Unless BB can come out with a significantly different and desirable phone, I see its usershare dropping to near zero in the next 6-12 months.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address) | Read more posts by .

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged: , , , |