BlackBerry Limited, the creator of the BlackBerry brand, decided in 2016 to cease competing in the smartphone market directly, to focus on making security software. Due to this, TCL Communication is now in charge of manufacturing, distributing, and designing BlackBerry-branded devices for the global market. The BlackBerry KEYone is the first device made under BlackBerry Mobile, although it was designed by BlackBerry Limited.
Devices made under BlackBerry Mobile will continue to be shipped running Android, along with security software, provided by BlackBerry Limited. This suite of software includes DTEK, BlackBerry Messenger, and BlackBerry Hub. Also, the software has a "secure boot" at start-up, to ensure that the Android system has not been tampered with. Many of these features are comparable to those from BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Ltd's former flagship operating system.
In 2007, RIM had the highest growth of the BlackBerry brand. Afterwards, they slowly lost dominance, as many consumers were moving towards devices like the iPhone from Apple and the Samsung Galaxy, due to their all-touchscreen form factor. Later on, the physical QWERTY keyboard on a smartphone became a significant feature of BlackBerry, which the brand was named after.
RIM renamed to BlackBerry Limited, and then set a new strategy, this one focusing on improving their brand. The BlackBerry Priv was launched in 2015, as their first device running Android. The device came with a full touchscreen, with a QWERTY keyboard underneath.
In 2016, BlackBerry Ltd outsourced production to TCL to manufacture the BlackBerry DTEK50 and DTEK60. Later on in 2016, BlackBerry announced that they are moving away from in-house manufacturing and production, and moving to become a software security company. In December 2016, TCL was chosen to be the global licensee of the BlackBerry brand.
At CES 2017, TCL showed off the rumored BlackBerry 'Mercury', although not stating any specifications of the device. Ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, TCL officially announced the device, stating it's official name is the BlackBerry KEYone. This device was designed by BlackBerry Ltd. rather than TCL. The device is sold under "BlackBerry Mobile."
- Orlowski, Andrew. "What is dead may never die – how to get a post-BlackBerry BlackBerry". The Register. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
- Kharpal, Arjun (25 February 2017). "BlackBerry refuses to say die, launches new $549 device with a physical keyboard and Android OS". CNBC. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
- "TCL carries flickering BlackBerry flame with new phone launch". Reuters UK. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
- Smith, Jake. "TCL announces 4.5-inch BlackBerry KEYone smartphone at MWC 2017 | ZDNet". ZDNet.