Erstwhile smartphone giant BlackBerry has recently initiated a licensing deal to target over one billion potential customers in India and its adjoining markets. The company announced an agreement with Delhi based teleco Optiemus Infracom earlier, that will let the latter manufacture and market devices bearing the “BlackBerry” label. Interestingly, the deal highlights the new way of relegating manufacturing to third-parties, that many OEMs have hit upon of late.
Back in September 2016, the Canadian smartphone giant declared that they would cease all in house hardware development and would outsource manufacturing to partners instead. The move was expected to free up the company’s resources and allow it to focus upon the more profitable software and services business.
The immediate aftermath of the decision was a joint venture by the name of “BB Merah Putih” being set up in Indonesia. Indonesia, because it has always been a good market for BlackBerry and sustains a high density of active BBM users.
Now, BlackBerry has also entered into a partnership with an Indian telecom company Optiemus Infracom. The partnership will work to “design, manufacture, sell, promote, and support” various BlackBerry labeled devices in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. So basically, the Delhi based company is now a partner and can manufacture and sell devices with the BlackBerry label.
Alex Thurber, head of BlackBerry’s mobility solutions division explains:
Together, that encompasses nearly 1.5 billion people, most of whom have never owned a smartphone before. BlackBerry will maintain security on those devices through regular updates.
This partnership will allow us to further extend the BlackBerry software experience in a region which is slated to become a hotbed of mobile growth and innovation. With our three hardware licensing partners, BlackBerry devices will now reach every corner of the globe.
Since the advent of Android and iOS based smartphone devices, Blackberry is struggling to find its way back in the market, and this event marks a breakthrough. Why? Because they now hold licenses for every major market on the globe,
completing its transition to a software and service company.
The transition from a hardware developer to a deal licensor bears a marked resemblance to another has-been — Nokia, which is now all set to return to the market with its Nokia-branded smartphones.
India, with well over a billion people, has emerged to be a potential battleground for most of the major tech companies — despite the fact that the majority is still away from the Internet. Tech mammoths like Google and Facebook are coming forward with tempting strategies like data-saving apps and free Internet access to public, to firm their grip on the market.
According to estimates, India could soon leave U.S. behind to become world’s second-biggest smartphone market in terms of units shipped. Blackberry could have relaxed a bit considering that less than 20 percent of Indians use iPhone, but now even Apple is set to begin manufacturing in India, earliest by April.
Well, if BlackBerry lands with a perfect strategy, India and its neighboring markets with their hordes of smartphone using denizens, could well offer them lots of success. By relegating the task of manufacturing and marketing to third parties that could well be better familiar with the market, BlackBerry could be attempting something clever. After all, it no longer has to dabble with manufacturing and can still reap profits.
However, the company appears to be well aware of the dangers of such partnerships as well and a disclaimer has appeared across BlackBerry’s “partnership announcements” page that now says:
BlackBerry is not responsible for any third-party products or services.