By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated April 02, 2014.
After a public tit-for-tat spat, BlackBerry and T-Mobile are officially parting ways. The handset maker has decided not to renew its license allowing T-Mobile to sell BlackBerry products when it expires on April 25, 2014.
The hubbub began in February. That’s when T-Mobile flat out suggested that BlackBerry users switch to the iPhone. Hardcore BlackBerry users got mad about it, which led T-Mobile CEO John Legere to respond on one of his favorite communications platforms: Twitter.
Legere tweeted: “BlackBerry users, I’m hearing you loud and clear. Let me work with the team and get back with you.” But it was too little, too late for some diehards. After all T-Mobile was heavily promoting the iPhone 5s at zero down as “a great offer for BlackBerry users.”
Where Do BlackBerry Users Go Now?
BlackBerry CEO and executive chair John Chen didn’t mention the spat in his comments on the split. He, rather, focused on how his company 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," Chen said. "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.”
So what does this mean for BlackBerry customers on T-Mobile? The company said its loyalists who are on the network “should not” see any difference in their service and support. That “should not” rather than “will not” phrase may raise some eyebrows, despite the fact that it’s clear BlackBerry fanatics will have to find new carriers in the long-term if they want to upgrade their devices.
BlackBerry vowed to “work closely with T-Mobile” to provide the best possible customer service to any customer who decides to stick with the network that snubbed it, or those who buy devices from the carrier’s existing inventory. Meanwhile, the company also made it clear it’s “working closely with other carrier partners” to give its fans more options if they want to move away from T-Mobile.
Parting Not Sweet Sorrow
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst who has been following the squabble, to get his take on the split. He told us it’s an interesting story about the push and the pull with BlackBerry
“BlackBerry is in the fight for its life. I like much of what CEO John Chen is doing. I like that he is moving away from BlackBerry 10 and moving back toward Blackberry 7,” Kagan said. “However, BlackBerry is still in the very early innings of their turnaround game.”
Kagan’s experience tells him that good and bad things happen in any turnaround of a company that has been decimated like BlackBerry. He pointed to the T-Mobile separation as one example. But does the split harm BlackBerry’s long-term comeback? Kagan doesn’t think so.
“This is a move away from T-Mobile, which has a very young customer base. Most of T-Mobile’s customers are simply not interested in BlackBerry. Not every wireless carrier has the same customer profile. T-Mobile apparently thinks BlackBerry has no place with them. It's as simple as that,” Kagan said. “That could change if BlackBerry has a significant turnaround. We will just have to wait and see.”