BlackBerry Limited today confirmed that it will no longer create its own phones, instead choosing to rely on hardware partners like China’s TCL Corporation.
In a statement, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said “The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners.”
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He added, “This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital.”
The news is hardly surprising. Since 2009, BlackBerry’s handset division has been in a terminal death-spiral, while devices running iOS and Android gained ground. Last year, Chen said that if the Canadian company was unable to reverse this downward trend, he would shut down any further hardware development.
Going forward, any devices that carry the BlackBerry name will be rebadged Android phones from other manufacturers. Last year’s DTEK50 was essentially an Alcatel Idol 4, and the upcoming DTEK60 looks remarkably similar to the Alcatel Idol 4S.
Ditching the capital-intensive handset division will also allow BlackBerry to focus on its burgeoning software services division, which looks set to become the company’s main priority now.
According to Chen, in Q2 the company “more than doubled” its software revenue year over year, and delivered the highest gross margin in the company’s history.
The future looks bright for BlackBerry. But today is still a very sombre day. For almost 15 years, devices like the Bold and Q10 have been synonymous with mobile productivity. It’ll be a sad day to see them disappear from our pockets.