Apple has been in the news recently for its efforts to get a foot in the door in India, which is on track to become the world’s second largest smartphone market. But a move from BlackBerry this week shows Apple isn’t the only North American handset vendor looking to make a mark there.
On Monday, BlackBerry announced it has signed a new software and services licensing agreement with Indian telecom company Optiemus Infracom for the production and sale of BlackBerry-branded Android handsets in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Alex Thurber, SVP and general manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry reported the markets collectively encompass a whopping 1.5 billion people, most of whom have never owned a smartphone.
According to the agreement, Optiemus will be responsible for the design, manufacture, sale, promotion, and support of BlackBerry mobile devices that include the company’s BlackBerry for Android software. The Canadian company said it will continue to control and develop its security and software solutions, and will deliver “regular” Android security updates to the platform.
BlackBerry said the deal is an expansion of its existing partnership with Optiemus, announced in November, for the distribution and sale of the company’s DTEK50 and DTEK60 Android handsets. The new agreement falls in line with India’s “Make in India” campaign, which has served as a roadblock for some of Apple’s attempts to gain a foothold in the country.
Thurber said the agreement is another step on BlackBerry’s transition to a software company.
“With this deal, we now have licensees ready to manufacture and deliver BlackBerry-branded devices in every market around the world, thus completing our transition to a security software and services company,” Thurber observed.
“India is a very important market for BlackBerry, so we are delighted our latest licensing partnership will extend the BlackBerry software experience to more customers and support the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ agenda,” he added. “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 localization.”