BlackBerry breaks ties with T-Mobile after spat

Following a T-Mobile e-mail campaign encouraging BlackBerry customers to switch to an iPhone, BlackBerry announces it will no longer sell devices with the carrier.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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BlackBerry's Z10
BlackBerry's Z10 Josh Miller/CNET

It appears to be an end of an era. The BlackBerry vs. T-Mobile squabble has culminated in a break between the two companies.

In a rare move, BlackBerry announced Tuesday that it is not renewing its deal with T-Mobile to sell BlackBerry devices. The current agreement is set to expire on April 25.

"BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a statement. "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."

The tiff between the companies fired up a couple of months ago when T-Mobile started an e-mail campaign prompting customers to dump their BlackBerry devices in favor of an iPhone. That, in turn, rallied faithful BlackBerry users into tweeting the hash tag #CHOOSEBLACKBERRY10 to T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

Chen, meanwhile, responded in a blog post of his own, noting that he was outraged by the campaign, and felt it was "inappropriate and ill-conceived."

"I can assure you that we are outraged too," he wrote. "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."

While T-Mobile has backpedaled -- offering a $200 credit for new BlackBerry devices with older phone trade-ins --- it appears BlackBerry had enough.

BlackBerry said Tuesday that the feud wouldn't affect customers using its devices on T-Mobile.

"We are deeply grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers and will do everything in our power to provide continued support with your existing carrier or ensure a smooth transition to our other carrier partners," Chen said.

T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said in a tweet that existing customers would be able to keep their current corporate discounts. An official announcement is slated for tomorrow morning, he added.

Updated at 10:45 pm PT: To include a comment from the T-Mobile CMO.