In a rare, but perhaps not-so-surprising move, BlackBerry announced late last night that it will not renew the T-Mobile (US) license to sell its products when it expires later this month, effectively ending the 10 year (or longer) partnership between the two companies.

The announcement comes after a spat broke out between the sides following the carrier’s iPhone offer that suggested BlackBerry users trade-in their phones for Apple handsets. T-Mobile tried to reconcile the matter with the Canadian firm, but it obviously didn’t work….

As a quick refresher, here’s the ad that kickstarted this whole feud:

tmobile iphone

And here’s an excerpt from BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s response to the ad:

“I want to thank our loyal customers for your commitment to BlackBerry. By expressing your outrage directly to T-Mobile ‎through tweets, calls and comments in the media and on blog posts, you sent a powerful message that T-Mobile could not ignore. […]

I can assure you that we are outraged too. What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.”

Following that blog post, T-Mobile announced that it would be offering a $200 credit towards the purchase of a new device to all BlackBerry users, and an additional $50 for those getting new BB handsets. Some saw it as an insult to the company, but it was still a good offer.

But not good enough apparently. Here’s the press release regarding the split:

Waterloo, ON – BlackBerry® Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB), a world leader in mobile communications, today announced that it will not renew the T-Mobile U.S., Inc. license to sell BlackBerry products when it expires on April 25, 2014.

BlackBerry customers on the T-Mobile network should not see any difference in their service or support.  BlackBerry will work closely with T-Mobile to provide the best possible customer service to any customer remaining on the T-Mobile U.S. network or to any customer purchasing devices from T-Mobile’s existing inventory. 

BlackBerry is also working closely with other carrier partners to provide consumers and business users with alternatives should they decide to transition to another carrier and remain with BlackBerry for their long-term device and service needs.  For additional details, offers and assistance, business customers and consumers can go to 

“BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years.  Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers.  We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned,” said BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chair, John Chen.  “We are deeply grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers and will do everything in our power to provide continued support with your existing carrier or ensure a smooth transition to our other carrier partners.

I can’t remember the last time a handset manufacturer publicly cut ties with a carrier over a disagreement, so it’s a bold move to be sure. But, with BlackBerry’s user base just a small fraction that it once was, I’m not sure this will send the intended message to T-Mobile.

As for T-Mobile, it hasn’t publicly commented on the announcement yet. But it’s been several months now since the company offered BlackBerry devices in its US retail stores, so it’s hard to imagine that this change will have much, if any, impact on its core business.

So what do you think about all of this? Smart move or dumb move on BlackBerry’s part?

  • Blackwho?

  • Fardeen Beharry

    nobody cares about blackberry anymore

  • Hyr3m

    Tough choice on BB’s part. Either go “yeah sure here’s my lunch money, oh hey everyone else, feel free to bully me whenever you feel like it since I’m a weakling” or stand up for themselves but basically go “oh hey thanks guys (users) for your support and loyalty. One more thing, you’ll need to show even more support and loyalty in the future :D”.

    Maybe there was another alternative… T-mobile did kind of fix it, offering stuff and sh*t… BB could have just asked them a bit more and be good with the apology without looking like weaklings…

    Guess Chen wanted to pull a Rick Grimes and say “They f*cked with the wrong people”.

    • Melvco

      You sir get an up vote, both for your contribution to the discussion about this post and the Walking Dead reference at the end.

      • Hyr3m

        Thanks Melvco 🙂

        Can’t believe we’ll have to wait 6 months to find out what happened to Beth…
        Good thing the comic keeps going… yet I can’t wait for 125 and 126 either. (If you’re not reading it, you should ^^ It’s even better than the TV show and that’s saying something…)

    • Anthony Antunez

      No joke, I had just finished watching that episode literally a minute ago and for some reason came straight to this article on iDB and found this comment… this is f*cking weird.

      • Hyr3m

        Maybe I knew you would come here and that’s why I added this at the end ^^

      • You work for the NSA. I knew it!

      • Hyr3m

        Or maybe I had just watched the episode myself… but I think that’s a stretch… too unlikely 😀

  • momerathe

    Makes sense, I think. BB’s becoming a niche product, but the people that like it love it so I think it’s a niche that will stick around (I’m not one of them, FWIW). It makes sense to focus on carriers who are willing to support it.

    • Rowan09

      The thing is those carriers in the US and Jamaica don’t exist anymore. Blackberry doesn’t help their cause either but selling their phones for the same price as iPhones and Androids.

  • Adan

    They keep digging their grave deeper and deeper.

  • wahwah

    Chen is an idiot and blackberry will fold sooner than most believe. Two true facts.

  • Jose Cheong

    It makes no sense for them to cut ties with a carrier. What sort of message are they trying to send… T-mobile obviously didn’t sell your phones due to poor sales. They could have just told or offered T-mobile promotions or stuff to boost sales instead of being salty and cut ties. Are they planing to hire sales people to knock or doors or something…

  • Abi Manyu

    considering maybe less than 100 new buyers of BB devices, its really not a big deal for T-mo… i bet they even happy that they now have extra spaces to keep more iOS/Android devices.

  • Dan

    Can’t see T-Mobile being affected by this, this will hurt BlackBerry more in the end.

  • nyangejr

    This BB company was almost sold a year ago, great move Chen lets see where you end up in the next year.

  • 2008crna

    A classic case of cutting of your nose to spite your face. BB needs every marketing exposure possible to stay alive. To think that this move sends a message to anyone is full of grandiose ideations that led BB to this point: their lack of innovation and foresight. Loyalties aside, if you burn a dedicated BB user who is on T-mobile (if they release a next device) then they are going to gradually lose a customer base that exists now, albeit how small of a margin it is. And really, can you call yourself a “world leader in mobile communications” if you are in last place of the market share?

  • Dani Hayes

    Blackberry keeps killing themselves slowly. In a time when every single sale helps them they are losing money doing this. I seriously doubt BBM can make any kind of comeback unless the make Android phones in some way or another. They just need to give up and scrap BBM.

  • Straightshoota

    Oh nobody wants our piece of sh!t phones. Well you can’t have them any more either. If I were t-mobile I would go ahead and ship all back stock of crap berries back to canada, good luck finding a home for these as even business doesn’t have the need for them anymore. Go back to the drawing board BB it’s time to innovate because stagnate hasn’t worked for ya!

    • Hyr3m

      They have gone back to the drawing board and they have innovated…

      Look into BB10 if you want to know what a truly good mobile OS is. It’s much better than iOS (although that’s not saying much…).

  • Jerry

    I’m sure tmobile will miss them dearly

  • 919263

    We just ditched BB for G4. 2000 phones.
    Arrogance did them in…

    • What’s g4? You mean Galaxy s4?

      • 919263

        yes… the Galaxy S4

  • Yahn Carlos

    Blackberry should just stay in the shadows for a couple of years and make it come back with a great phone and OS, genius are not only in apple or android.

    • iDefect

      It’s all very unfortunate considering that the Q10 and Z30 are excellent phones.

  • Marshall Blr

    I absolutely agree with BlackBerry!
    Because of BB had a slightly fall in the latest times it does not mean they are not in the game then!,
    that was an unfair step from the Tmobile
    anyway my personal experiences are just the same, tmobile always been a sneaky and unfair provider..non of my cup of tea!