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Don't call it a comeback: BlackBerry enters licensing agreement with TCL

BlackBerry already announced it would end hardware development, but its licensing agreement with TCL allows the company to carry out that announcement in earnest.

According to the deal, BlackBerry will license its name and software to TCL. This allows TCL to design, build, sell, and support future BlackBerry hardware, though BlackBerry is not entirely out of the picture — the Canadian outfit will still tweak the software to tighten up its security.

“This agreement with TCL Communication represents a key step in our strategy to focus on putting the ‘smart in the phone’ by providing state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform that mobile users prefer and are comfortable with,” said BlackBerry COO and general manager Ralph Pini. “TCL Communication is the natural choice to license BlackBerry’s software and brand on a global scale.”

More: Last hurrah: BlackBerry will make one more phone with a physical keyboard

TCL is not some random choice of a partner, however, as the company previously repurposed Alcatel’s Idol 4 and Idol 4S as BlackBerry’s DTEK50 and DTEK60, respectively. BlackBerry did not say whether phones developed under the licensing deal will be repurposed or original TCL designs, though we were told to keep our eyes open in the “coming months.”

The announcement did not mention BlackBerry’s rumored phone, which looks to be the last homegrown handset. Even so, company CEO John Chen recently confirmed that the phone, which is rumored to pack a keyboard and run the latest version of Android, is coming along.

Some might see the licensing agreement as BlackBerry’s long-awaited revival, though it seems more like a way for the company to get its name out there and remain relevant. Regardless of how the deal is perceived, however, it represents a significant milestone in BlackBerry’s long history. Fans can only hope the deal eventually leads to improved fortunes.