BlackBerry hasn’t had much luck with hardware over the past decade. The smartphones that it made itself didn’t sell as well as it might have hoped. The company only made one tablet and that flopped as well. We never go to see any wearable devices from the company so while a BlackBerry smartwatch might have seemed like a myth at one point, it appears to be a genuine possibility now.
No, BlackBerry isn’t making a return to hardware. It’s sticking with the decision it made to exit the hardware market and license its brand and patents to third-party manufacturers.
We’ve already seen TCL churn out BlackBerry-branded smartphones and it will continue to do so. TCL is the exclusive partner and it’s going to manufacture smartphones that carry BlackBerry branding and run its custom version of Android.
BlackBerry has now signed a patent license agreement with Timex Group. The financial structure of this agreement will provide on-going royalty payments from Timex to BlackBerry. The companies have made the additional terms of this agreement confidential.
BlackBerry has a patent portfolio of more than 40,000 worldwide patents and applications that cover a wide range of technologies such as wireless communications, networking infrastructure, messaging, acoustics, enterprise software, cybersecurity, and more.
“This license agreement with Timex demonstrates the strength of BlackBerry’s patent portfolio, and will enable us to focus on further patent licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.
The companies haven’t hinted at any product plans as yet but this agreement between them leaves the door wide open for Timex to develop a smartwatch under the BlackBerry brand.
Whether or not this will happen is another matter altogether. Given BlackBerry’s business model shift, it can reasonably be expected that something will come of this patent agreement.