T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting

After a bitter breakup in February, the CEOs of T-Mobile and BlackBerry are flirting with the idea of giving their relationship another try.

As a refresher on the relationship drama, T-Mobile US Inc. CEO John Legere took a break from attacking AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless early this year to go after its handset partner BlackBerry . It offered BlackBerry users who switched to its network a new iPhone, inciting outrage in BlackBerry CEO John Chen who took to a blog post to ask its customers to share their outrage with T-Mobile. (See BlackBerry's Chen Lashes Out at T-Mobile Offer.)

Legere conceded that T-Mobile would continue to support BlackBerry and eventually stopped the promo. However, Chen wouldn't stand for the abuse. BlackBerry decided to not renew its licensing deal with T-Mobile after it ended on April 25. (See BlackBerry Kills T-Mobile Licensing Deal.)

For more on BlackBerry's tumultuous ride in the smartphone market, peruse the dedicated mobile devices and smartphone content channel here on Light Reading.

Now it appears the two are warming to the possibility of revisiting the relationship. Answering media questions after T-Mobile's Uncarrier 8.0 launch on Tuesday, Legere said that he's open to finding a way for T-Mobile customers to have BlackBerry phones, provided the handset maker cooperates. Chen then told CNet today at its BlackBerry Classic event that he was also open to it and should connect with Legere (although I imagine he'd like to do it in person and not over Twitter).

Chen's boldness back in February was a surprise given the handset maker's struggles in the market. It really wasn't in a position then to kick any operators to the curb, but -- then again -- it probably didn't stand to lose much by ditching T-Mobile, which wasn't a marquee partner like AT&T or Verizon, at the time. Now, with today's launch of the Classic throwback smartphone for BlackBerry faithfuls and the recent Passport launch, it's back to needing all the help it can get to promote its new devices. (See BlackBerry's Passport to Success Is Services.)

For T-Mobile's part, I'm sure there are a few rash things Legere says or does that he wishes he could take back (or certainly that his company wishes he could). This would definitely be one of them. I wouldn't be surprised if we see this erstwhile pair burying the hatchet and getting back together in time for the new year. The holidays seem to have a way of bringing people together that way.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Ariella 12/22/2014 | 11:46:28 AM
Re: Classic carriers @Kruz I'll have to look into it. Thanks.
Kruz 12/21/2014 | 10:52:11 AM
Re: Classic carriers Corning is promising the the current Gorilla Glass 4 iteration(found on SGN4 for instance) is well resistant to drops on a hard surface(up to 1 m high drops). You can still have one for your kids just in time for the holidays :)
Ariella 12/20/2014 | 7:05:03 PM
Re: Classic carriers @Kruz exactly, that's why I'm not really such a fan of touchscreens. My kids already broke 3 such devices, 2 iPods and one smartphone. I did get quite a few years out of an old Blackberry, though it had one of those tracking balls that get popping out, making it not useless but rather frustrating to use.
Kruz 12/19/2014 | 7:14:31 PM
Re: Blackberry is still around? It's only a matter of time before they totally exit the devices business.
Kruz 12/19/2014 | 7:10:05 PM
Re: Classic carriers Indeed Ariella. But these are all full touch scene phones with no physical keyboard, ie iphone. I dont see that happening to keyboard based phones. Keyboard base phone with a touch screen hardly brakes..
mhhf1ve 12/19/2014 | 1:01:19 PM
Re: Blackberry is still around? I wonder who might pick up blackberry... I forget who bought WebOS from HP, but it seems possible that there could be a buyer for blackberry OS. I suppose I shouldn't call BB's time of death too soon, but it certainly doesn't look good based on its recent phone designs.
Ariella 12/19/2014 | 12:54:48 PM
Re: Classic carriers @Kruz related to what we discussed yesterday, I saw this: cnet.com/pictures/busted-cnet-readers-show-us-their-broken-devices-pictures/11/
KBode 12/19/2014 | 9:19:27 AM
Re: Blackberry is still around? "I don't see why T-mobile needs to re-build bridges with BB... but I can see that BB needs all the help it can get to try to gain back any kind of marketshare."

Yes, I don't think T-Mobile really needs Blackberry as much as Blackberry needs T-Mobile. But that market share's just not going to come without compelling product, and unless I missed it, it just doesn't exist. Every new effort seems as dull and uncompelling as the last when held up against iOS and Android. I'm surprised they even surprised the last year's events.
mhhf1ve 12/18/2014 | 7:44:18 PM
Blackberry is still around? It's strange how the tech market only seems to support about 3 operating systems for the vast majority of users. In the PC era, it was Window/Mac/Linux. In the smartphone era, it looks like iOS, Android and Winmo. Sure, there are other OSes in the PC era (eg. BSD, Solaris and other Unixes, etc), just as there are other OSes in the smartphone market (eg. Firefox OS, Blackberry, etc), but 90% of the market is covered by the top 3 OSes.

I don't see why T-mobile needs to re-build bridges with BB... but I can see that BB needs all the help it can get to try to gain back any kind of marketshare. 

Seriously, when the OnePlusOne phone and the Oppa R5 exist and sell for ridiculously reasonable prices unlocked... how does Blackberry even hope to compete with its tiny screens? 

I anticipate that BB will need to go "full android" at some point... and then maybe it will be able to pick up some users willing to try out a different form factor with a familiar OS. 

I also wonder if Amazon might do well to acquire Blackberry to design its future Fire phones and devices, but it doesn't seem like BB has much interest in selling itself (YET).
Kruz 12/18/2014 | 9:35:27 AM
Re: Classic carriers I agree but with a relatively smaller size(for the keyboard BBs), the screen doesnt break that often when compared to other phones. Q10 phones for instances will hardly have a broken screen. 
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