BlackBerry dumps T-Mobile

You wouldn’t think BlackBerry would be a company to dump a major US carrier, given its precarious market position. But you’d be wrong.

In a surprise move on Tuesday, the Waterloo, Ont.-smartphone manufacturer announced it was dumping T-Mobile US as a BlackBerry carrier, and would not be renewing its license to sell BlackBerry products when it expires April. 25.

According to BlackBerry, its users on the T-Mobile network shouldn’t see any difference in service and support, and the two organizations will work together to ensure customer service for existing clients, and those that purchase from existing T-Mobile inventory, is maintained.

“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, in a statement. “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.

Chen’s statement doesn’t tell the whole story. In February, a T-Mobile marketing campaign that targeted its BlackBerry customers and pitched them on switching to the iPhone 5 raised Chen’s ire. There was a social media backlash from BlackBerry fans and Chen said he was outraged, calling the promotion “inappropriate and ill-conceived.”

While T-Mobile would later affirm its support for BlackBerry, it appears to have been too little too late for Chen. And T-Mobile had already been backing away from BlackBerry; its new Q10 and Z10 weren’t offered in T-Mobile stores, but were only available by order.

According to BlackBerry, its “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.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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