BlackBerry-branded Android handsets will soon be available in the local market after the Canadian firm struck a deal yesterday with Delhi-based Optiemus Infracom to manufacture smartphones for India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Optiemus Infracom will design, manufacture, sell, promote and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded Android smartphones, which come pre-loaded with an added layer of security and proprietary software of the Waterloo-based mobile pioneer.
“This agreement will help us to 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, said in a statement.
Neither a timeline nor a product roadmap has been announced yet. Once a dominant player in the smartphone category, BlackBerry has been struggling in recent years against global competitors like Samsung and Apple.
The company has taken a number of steps, including adopting the Android platform for powering its phones in attempts to re-capture its position.
BlackBerry is transitioning its handheld devices strategy to focus on software innovation, while leveraging third parties to develop hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry handset brand.
ATM Mahbubul Alam, a top leader of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association, welcomed the move, as it will give the Bangladeshi customers to experience a global brand. At present, BlackBerry-branded handsets are available in Bangladesh through popular resellers.
“As Bangladesh is a huge market it was natural that BlackBerry would look to enter Bangladesh via India,” Alam added.
At present, about 22 lakh handsets are imported every month, most of which are from China.