BlackBerry signs another smartphone licensing deal

Partnership with Optiemus Infracom opens up India market to BlackBerry

BlackBerry has announced another licensing deal, which will see its Android-powered smartphones being manufactured and distributed by another company in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

The company has signed an agreement with Indian telecoms business Optiemus Infracom, which follows on from the company's previous deals with TCL Communication, penned in December, and PT BlackBerry Merah Putih in Indonesia.

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Optiemus Infracom, like TCL, will be responsible for designing, manufacturing, selling, promoting and providing customer support for BlackBerry-branded handsets, while BlackBerry will allow it to use its software and services suite.

"This is an important milestone in our strategy to put the smart in the phone', providing state-of-the-art security and device software on a platform relevant to mobile customers, with more localisation," Alex Thurber, senior VP and general manager of mobility solutions at BlackBerry, said.

"With its infrastructure and experience in manufacturing, and proven success as our distribution partner, Optiemus Infracom Ltd is the ideal partner to design and manufacture trusted BlackBerry secure Android handsets for customers in India and neighboring markets."

The deal will also help India's 'Make in India' initiative, which aims to build the profile of India as a design and manufacturing hotbed, Thurber added.

"This agreement will help us expand mobility choices by designing, manufacturing and offering secure BlackBerry devices which are made in India, for customers in India, as well as Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh," Ashok Gupta, chairman of Optiemus Infracom, added.

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"With our strong end to end play in the mobile ecosystem in manufacturing, retail, distribution and support, we are confident that our journey with BlackBerry will be a long and successful one."

BlackBerry's boss, John Chen, spoke to IT Pro last month about why BlackBerry is using partners to manufacture and distribute its smartphones, saying the strategy expands the company's market reach while taking the burden and cost out of manufacturing multiple handsets for different markets.

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