BlackBerry and T-Mobile U.S. licensing agreement dead in the water

BlackBerry confirmed in a statement Tuesday that it will not be renewing its licensing agreement with T-Mobile to sell BlackBerry products in the United States when the current contract expires on Apr. 25, 2014.

The struggling Waterloo, Ontario-based company did state that existing and new customers wouldn’t see any difference when the agreement ends because it will still provide service and client support on T-Mobile’s network. Also, BlackBerry will be working with other mobile carriers to give users an opportunity to find alternatives if they want to switch from T-Mobile.

“BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years,” said Blackberry CEO John Chen. “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.”

BlackberryBlackBerry did not add anything further as to why it would be ending its partnership with T-Mobile, which did not respond to any requests for comments as of yet. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint, three of the largest telecommunications firms in the U.S. today, continue to sell BlackBerry mobile devices.

What happened? It all started when T-Mobile sent out emails to customers in February offering free iPhone 5s and pushed the promotion as being a “great offer for BlackBerry customers.” This email caused uproar in social media and BlackBerry owners were enraged.

Soon after, the relationship between the two companies began to experience a downturn when the BlackBerry CEO disparaged T-Mobile in a blog post:

“I can assure you that we are outraged too. What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion,” wrote Chen. “To the BlackBerry user community, I want to extend our deepest gratitude. Y‎our passion motivates us every day as we navigate our turnaround. And for our loyal customers on the T-Mobile network, know that we have an offer in the works designed especially for you. Watch this space for an update very soon.”

Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s chief marketing officer in the U.S., went public and acknowledged Chen’s comments in a blog post of his own. He declared that the company is still supporting both the BlackBerry business and its customers.

The Bellevue, Washington-based carrier decided to offer a $200 trade-in credit in order to remedy the soured collaboration.

“Again, I love all the passion I’ve seen pouring in from the BlackBerry loyal these past several days. Thanks for the Tweets. We hear you,” wrote Sievert.

“We simply have a different point of view on the matter of choice than the one expressed yesterday by Mr. Chen.  The Un-carrier is fundamentally about delivering real flexibility and freedom to wireless customers. It’s just not in us to lock customers in to annual service contracts, make them wait for upgrades … or limit them to one or the other type of device or OS.  That’s not what we’re about.  Thanks for giving us the opportunity to express these values once again.”

However, T-Mobile CEO John Legere didn’t help matters when he sent out this tweet in February:

“Was going to engage John Chen on Twitter, but turns out he’s not here. I’ll check MySpace. Don’t worry @BlackBerry Something in the works!”

BlackBerry has been struggling over the past few years. After leading the smartphone market, it went through a downward spiral in 2010 and has failed to recuperate its losses. Since then, Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s line of Galaxy devices and devices powered by Google’s Android operating system have dominated the market.

Last year, the phone maker’s BlackBerry 10 devices flopped. This caused Chen to transition the company’s business model of being a hardware sales company to instead operating as a smartphone services manager.

During the Wednesday morning trading session, BlackBerry has traded in positive territory, up 1.35 percent. T-Mobile U.S. shares, meanwhile, have inched 0.27 percent higher.