BlackBerry will not renew tie-up with T-Mobile

BlackBerry criticized T-Mobile in February for pushing iPhones to BlackBerry customers

BlackBerry will not renew the license of T-Mobile US to sell its products when it expires later this month, the smartphone maker said.

The announcement by the Canadian company comes after a dispute in February with the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S. for promoting Apple's iPhone 5s at a discount to its BlackBerry customers.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote in a blog post in February that like its loyal customers who expressed outrage to T-Mobile, the company was also outraged by the carrier's move. "What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion," Chen wrote about T-Mobile's email promotion.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere said at the time that the carrier would continue to support BlackBerry products.

Blackberry said late Tuesday that it will not renew the license to T-Mobile to sell BlackBerry products when it expires on April 25. Chen said in a statement the companies' strategies were no longer complementary and hoped to work again with T-Mobile in the future when their business strategies are aligned.

The smartphone company said it was working with other carrier partners to provide consumers and business users with alternatives should they decide to move to another carrier and remain with BlackBerry for the long term.

The company also said it will work closely with T-Mobile to provide "the best possible customer service" to any customer remaining on the T-Mobile US network or to any customer purchasing devices from T-Mobile's existing inventory.

BlackBerry has seen its market share dwindle. In the fourth quarter of 2013, its worldwide share of smartphone operating systems dropped to 0.6 percent for 1.7 million units shipped, compared to the 3.2 percent share for 7.4 million units it had shipped in the same quarter in the previous year, according to research firm IDC.

The BlackBerry operating system was the only smartphone OS to have negative year-over-year change both for the quarter and for the year, IDC said.

Addressing T-Mobile in his February blog post, Chen told the carrier that our "long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile." He said he hoped that "we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again." The current turn of events suggests the rapprochement didn't happen.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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