BlackBerry CEO outraged by US iPhone swaps

19 Feb 2014
BlackBerry Z10

T-Mobile US has enraged die-hard BlackBerry fans by offering iPhone upgrades

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said he's outraged by a T-Mobile US offer that encourages BlackBerry fans to switch over to the iPhone 5s.

The carrier sent out emails to customers last week, pitching free iPhone 5s handsets and touting the promotion as a "great offer for BlackBerry customers".

That sparked a brouhaha across social media sites, after some loyal BlackBerry customers on T-Mobile US reacted angrily to the offer, which they perceived as a slight.

The backlash prompted T-Mobile US chief executive John Legere to respond publicly on Twitter. Legere said T-Mobile would continue to support BlackBerry smartphones and he assured BlackBerry users they did not have to give up their devices or "loyalty."

But in a blog post yesterday, Chen slammed the T-Mobile US offer as a "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion," and thanked die-hard BlackBerry users for their loyalty to the company.

"Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us at BlackBerry, and draws a sharp contrast with the behaviour of our longtime business partner," Chen said in the posting, noting that T-Mobile had not discussed its promotion with BlackBerry.

T-Mobile US later said it was happy to work with BlackBerry and promised free, faster shipping of BlackBerry devices to T-Mobile customers as "an additional courtesy".

Struggling market share

BlackBerry has been struggling to claw back market share lost to the iPhone, Samsung's smartphone range and other handsets running the Android OS. According to figures from IDC, BlackBerry's global smartphone share stands at just 0.6%.

The firm's new line of BlackBerry 10 devices has so far failed to win back market share, and Chen is attempting to reshape the company to focus less on the handset segment, and more on the company's services business.

Chen has stressed, however, that the handset business remains a core component for BlackBerry as the company attempts to engineer a turnaround.

Chen called on T-Mobile US to "find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again".

Read more

News