BlackBerry opened an official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo, signaling a return to the Far Eastern country after a prolonged period of absence. Following the company's closure of its hardware division in late 2016, the Canadian tech giant opted to pursue partnerships with a number of original design manufacturers (ODMs) around the world, looking to outsource its production operations while still supporting its new partners with software and product design. TCL Communication is currently the largest such partner working with BlackBerry, with the company's latest release being the KEYone that was officially launched at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year.
Despite being based in Huizhou, China, TCL has yet to release any BlackBerry-branded devices in its home country, though the latest turn of events indicates that the tech giant is now also looking to compete in the largest smartphone market in the world. The most likely candidate for an immediate launch in China is precisely the KEYone, with the physical keyboard-equipped handset recently being certified by local regulatory agency TENAA. Seeing how the device is already largely manufactured and assembled in China, TCL's distribution costs should be significantly lower compared to other markets and allow the company to possibly price the KEYone in a more aggressive manner in an effort to compete with local phone makers.
Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have been undercutting each other for years, but the sheer size of this market is still an attractive proposition for many electronics companies that find it hard to give up on the Far Eastern country even when faced with massive losses. Samsung is currently in such a position, with the Seoul-based tech giant holding a negligible share of the market yet doing everything it can to reverse its fortunes and not even considering a retreat. Some industry watchers are skeptical in regards to TCL's chances of successfully relaunching the BlackBerry brand in China, though local consumers may still respond positively to an enterprise-oriented lineup of mobile devices. An update on the situation, as well as TCL and BlackBerry's general product ambitions should follow later this year, presumably no later than summer.