BlackBerry Announces Split With T-Mobile

BlackBerry says it won't renew T-Mobile's license, as the companies' strategies aren't "complementary." T-Mobile, on the rift, says, "Ask them."

BlackBerry has announced that it's parting ways with T-Mobile.

When T-Mobile's license to sell BlackBerry smartphones expires April 25, BlackBerry won't renew it, the company said in an April 1 statement.

"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," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement.

"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," Chen added.

Strains in the relationship have been showing.

Last September, T-Mobile stopped stocking BlackBerry smartphones, saying that it would ship phones directly to customers who wanted them. But since those customers were few and far between, "keeping stock in the retail distribution system was inefficient," Dave Carey, T-Mobile's executive vice president for corporate services, told Reuters.

In February, BlackBerry and some of its customers pushed back hard after T-Mobile, in marketing materials directed at BlackBerry users, said, "Now is the time to upgrade to iPhone 5S."

"@johnlegere this is embarrassing. Carriers should show loyalty to customers, not products," one BlackBerry user (@jfortunato) tweeted at T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

In a blog post, Chen called the ad "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived," while commending the BlackBerry users also expressing their outrage.

"Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us at BlackBerry and draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of our longtime business partner," Chen wrote.

T-Mobile scrambled to set things right.

"Wow. Mind blown. The passion we've seen from the BlackBerry Loyal over the past couple days has been pretty amazing," T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert wrote in a Feb. 19 response.

Adding that the folks at T-Mobile have been "working overtime … to find the best possible way to show BlackBerry users exactly how much we appreciate and respect your passion for and loyalty to T-Mobile and BlackBerry," Sievert announced an offer of a $200 credit toward a new device—any new device—and an extra $50 off if the device was a BlackBerry Q10 or Z10.

Sievert also offered to expedite shipping, free of charge, and then accused Chen of wanting to put blinders on the eyes of BlackBerry customers.

"The premise of his [blog post] was that it's best for customers if we restrict the free flow of information and limit customer choice," wrote Sievert. "At T-Mobile we reject that premise."

Upon news of the split, Twitter users began reaching out to Legere, a constant, gregarious presence on the social network.

"Why the split with BlackBerry?? My company loves both our BlackBerry phone and T-Mobile. This is not what we want," @neugenusa tweeted to Legere.

Legere shot back, "Ask them!"

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