Is the BlackBerry KEY2 LE the final comeback?
Updated: Jan 21
Without a doubt, BlackBerry was once the king of the smartphone. The device peaked at over 50 million units sold in 2011 and over 200 million collectively during its ten-year reign from 2006 to 2016.
Though there will always be lifelong fans, the days of BlackBerry may be coming to a bittersweet end with the BlackBerry Key2 LE.
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Originally known as Research In Motion, the Canadian telecom company is a true technology "OG" — starting with the manufacturing of pagers and handsets before moving on to BlackBerry within its first 15 years.
At one time, BlackBerry controlled over 50% of the smartphone market in the United States and 20% of the global market.
However, with the growth of the iPhone and Samsung devices, demand slowly dwindled until the company decided to stop manufacturing their own phones in 2016.
TCL Tried But Will No Longer Focus On BlackBerry
After the launch of the iPhone in 2007, BlackBerry went through considerable setbacks. It failed to keep its devices up to date according to the market requirements. In 2016, the company signed a deal with TCL Communication to manufacture and sell BlackBerry phones.
“BlackBerry was failing and it decided to outsource their production because it was not sustainable for the company to continue in-house production.”
But the three-year contract came to a close in 2019, and the fate of the cult phone is uncertain after TCL's announcement that they will no longer produce new versions of the device.
TCL Communication, at the inception of the BlackBerry deal, was in the need of making its name in the market. Therefore, a contract was established to benefit both companies.
Photo courtesy of PCMag India
Despite outsourcing the production, BlackBerry didn’t allow TCL Communication to completely design newer models of the phone. But, with a clever partnership, together they redesigned and released a total of four smartphone models —with the BlackBerry KEY2 LE as the most recent.
The BlackBerry KEY2 LE contains the latest Android software in combination with the traditional BlackBerry software. Unlike mobile devices on the market today, it is not overly rugged or water-resistant and has a steeper price tag than comparable phones.
Yet! In a leg-up over current Android devices, the BlackBerry KEY2 LE still features the perfect signature QWERTY keyboard and is loaded with all the BlackBerry security software at boot up. With Android security concerns on the rise, it's a must-have feature for high-risk techies.
TCL Communication tried to reestablish the reputation of BlackBerry, but it again failed because of the already poor reputation of the brand. The company was also stunted by the limited contractual timeline and freedom of design.
TCL has announced its new 10-Series lineup of affordable 5G smartphones and since moved on —but, so has BlackBerry.
BlackBerry's stock recently surged to a 52-week high after it announced a multi-year partnership with Amazon earlier this month, giving hopes that the company isn't ready to go out without a fight.
Nothing Can Beat BlackBerry's Software
Even though their popularity took off and declined within the last fifteen years, BlackBerry has been present in the mobile phone manufacturing business since 2000 and is considered to be one of the best mobile phones ever made; without a doubt due to its' revolutionary functions and software.
The most surprising detail of BlackBerry's deal with Amazon is the fact that their features and software, not their devices, hold the most significance to the conglomerate as well.
According to The Motley Fool, the two tech companies will co-develop and market BlackBerry IVY, a new "cloud-connected intelligent vehicle data platform" that offers automakers a "standardized secure way to read and analyze vehicle sensor data."
Photo courtesy of Wired
IVY will merge BlackBerry's QNX embedded OS for vehicles with AWS' IoT and machine learning services.
This means that the partnering of BlackBerry and Amazon technology will "compress the timeline to build, deploy, and monetize new in-vehicle applications and connected services across multiple vehicle brands and models," according to the companies.
Though it seems the rise in BlackBerry's stock may have been hyped by this industry-changing news, it's safe to say that the telecom veteran is still making money moves.
The Older The Berry
BlackBerry has gone through many failures till now and it seems that they do not want to manufacture more smartphones in the coming years — but, nothing is certain.
It is clear that the company cannot start the in-house production of its popular Qwerty keyboard enabled smartphones and has released no plans to outsource the production, because of the poor reputation of the brand.
So, it can be said that BlackBerry KEY2 LE may have been a last attempt to revive its reputation in the market.
A recent Elite BlackBerry Porche Design Red Edition was listed on eBay for $3.8 million.