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 12/18/2014 | 9:26:00 AM
Re: Classic carriers @Kruz you mean the ruggedness? It's true that the new line of phones are far from rugged, and the cost of repairing screens is ridiculously high. That's why there's a new industry of repairs for such things. You can see such stores popping up in both full size shops and kiosks in malls. 
Kruz 12/18/2014 | 9:21:39 AM
Re: Classic carriers I asked a friend the other why he still carries a BB. He said that every time he drops his phone, he is thankfull that its a BB. So here you go, that's a BB feature :)
Ariella 12/18/2014 | 9:14:41 AM
Re: Classic carriers I'm not a fan of T-Mobile and just gave up my cumbersome Blackberry. It's possible that other phone users would find this partnership more appealing than I do. 
Kruz 12/18/2014 | 7:30:11 AM
Re: Classic carriers This will at max attract some limited existing die hard Blackberry Classic fans. But what are these? A 1% base? Why is BB insisting on pushing a 2005 technology when we are in the bendable phone era? People dont want to loose screen size for a keyboard, simple. There isn't one compelling thing about this phone. Apple itself is riding the screen size wave while Blackberry insists on going back to its roots. Reminds of Nokia when it was missing out on what really meant for users. 
mendyk 12/17/2014 | 3:22:06 PM
On the rebound Sinatra notwithstanding, the track record for second-time-around relationships is not impressive.
KBode 12/17/2014 | 1:50:00 PM
Re: Classic carriers Most of the reviews seem to suggest it fails to capture the hearts of the Blackberry faithful, but at the same time fails to offer enough compelling design/features to appeal to the new customers Blackberry wants to woo. I think at this point it's only a matter of time before they exist handsets altogether and just focus on business services.


It's a romantic tale though that Chen and Legere kissed and made up. I found Chen's comments curious when they occurred, since that company needs all the friends it can get.
jabailo 12/17/2014 | 1:20:41 PM
Re: Classic carriers People have this image of smartphones as for Selfies and watching YouTube, but truth be told, we still use computers (and smartphones, which are really ultra-mini PCs) to transmit text (and use text commands).

Just as in the case of netbooks, which are making a resurgence (see what HP did with the Stream), because the web is, and will always be, not just a TV -- but a two way platform for communications, mostly done in text and ideally done with real keyboards.

Same with phones.   Yes, I like having my phone be a map.  Yes, I like having my phone show me pictures.  And yes, I even like talking on my smartphone.  But mostly I want to send and receive text both by SMS, Google Hangouts and the old standby...email.

Blackberry was built and has stayed true to that reality.

danielcawrey 12/17/2014 | 12:34:38 PM
Re: Classic carriers People still like their Blackberry phones. Maybe that will convince some of them to go to T-Mobile, but I wouldn't be an advocate of that. The reality is that their network is not very good, I am going to stick with Verizon. 
sarahthomas1011 12/17/2014 | 11:40:12 AM
Classic carriers T-Mobile certainly won't be announced as a partner today for the new (old) Classic, but those that were -- AT&T and Verizon -- won't have it in time for the holidays. Pricing wasn't announced either.

Curious what you all thought of the Classic. Will any BlackBerry faithfuls be buying it for its throwback form?
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