BlackBerry Squares Off With Apple Via New Licensing Deal

BlackBerry has struck another deal to license its smartphone brand in another market. This time it’s India—the very market Apple has its sights set on too. The country announced last week that the iPhone maker will be making phones for domestic sale there as soon as April.

BlackBerry licensing its brand to Optiemus

BlackBerry has struck a deal with Optiemus Infracom in India to “design, manufacture, sell, promote, and support” its branded devices there and in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. The company announced the deal in a blog post today—confirming a report we heard unofficially last week—as a follow-up to the partnership with Optiemus it announced in November. That marketing and distribution partnership focused on the Android-based DTEK60 and DTEK50 devices. The two partners will support the country’s “Make in India” initiative by creating opportunities in manufacturing and jobs.

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This is the first long-term licensing agreement for the company since it signed the deal with TCL Communications, and it’s the company’s third overall long-term deal. The Canadian firm said this agreement means it now has licensing deals for its phones to be manufactured and distributed in every global market.

BlackBerry wants to seize opportunities in India

The markets covered in the deal with Optiemus cover almost 1.5 billion people, many of whom haven’t owned a smartphone before. Needless to say, India and its neighboring markets are seen as a treasure chest that hasn’t yet been opened by international firms, so BlackBerry, Apple and every other smartphone vendor in the world are now entering a gold rush for the markets that collectively make up the next step in their global land grab quest. Most of India’s population isn’t even online,

BlackBerry said the licensing deal will enable it to “further extend the BlackBerry software experience in a region which is slated to become a hotbed of mobile growth and innovation.” The country is currently the world’s fastest-growing market for smartphones and has already surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s second-biggest market, according to BlackBerry. Only China is a bigger market than India.

Shares of the Canadian firm edged higher by as much as 0.29% to $7.02 in morning trades on the NASDAQ.