Mobile device maker BlackBerry (BBRY) abruptly closed off its licensing agreement with carrier T-Mobile nearly a full month before the deal was set to expire, taking the high road to blame the split on divergent business strategies.
The April 2 breakup likely was catalyzed by a public squabble between the two that began in February when T-Mobile began offering customers discounts to upgrade from BlackBerry devices to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone. BlackBerry chief John Chen fired back, complaining in a blog post about T-Mobile’s choice to “not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.”
He went on to thank BlackBerry’s customers for “expressing your outrage directly to T-Mobile through tweets, calls and comments in the media and on blog posts, you sent a powerful message that T-Mobile could not ignore.”
In a move perhaps to soothe BlackBerry’s ruffled feathers, T-Mobile then offered a $250 credit to customers upgrading from older to newer BlackBerry models. But someone at T-Mobile must have had a wild hair about BlackBerry, because the carrier followed with another promotion to give BlackBerry users $200 to switch to another device maker’s products—which, apparently, an overwhelming percentage did.
What followed was dead air between the two companies and it appeared to be only a matter of time before they parted ways, even though moves of that sort are uncommon. Still, in his parting comments Chen appeared to leave wiggle room for a reconciliation at some point.
“BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years,” Chen said. “Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers. We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned.”
BlackBerry said that current T-Mobile customers using its devices should not experience any change in service or support and assured users the device maker will work with its remaining carriers to provide alternatives for customers wanting to transfer providers or alter their service profile.