ZTE has hired former BlackBerry engineers to help develop new smartphones

By John Callaham on 10 Jun 2014 12:44 pm EDT

A new report from the Wall Street Journal says China-based ZTE has already hired a number of former BlackBerry employees, and could hire more team members from the company in the coming months.

The report says that ZTE has specifically brought in new employees who have previously worked at BlackBerry as senior engineers. They will apparently help develop new hardware products for ZTE,

It is said that the number of BlackBerry team members hired by ZTE so far is fewer than 20, and that those employees are still working in BlackBerry's home country of Canada. However, those same team members could move to either China or the U.S. in order to take on more responsibility at ZTE.

The report quotes Adam Zeng, the head of ZTE's mobile device business, as saying, "We hope the talent from BlackBerry can enhance our product security and design capability." He added that the company will continue to go after more team members from BlackBerry and other smartphone companies. A BlackBerry rep did not respond immediately to the WSJ's request for comment.

Zeng told the Wall Street Journal that ZTE sold 40 million smartphones in 2013, and that they expect that number to go up to 60 million units this year and 80 million in 2015. For that they're probably going to need more engineers.

Poaching of senior talent between companies isn't anything new, but that somebody like ZTE is aggressively going after wounded competitors like BlackBerry is interesting. There's a lot of talent on that bench, but what can BlackBerry do to make sure they stay in Waterloo?

Source: Wall Street Journal

Topics: Zte News & Rumors

John Callaham John Callaham "News Writer for Mobile Nations" 99 (articles) 0 (forum posts)

Reader comments

ZTE has hired former BlackBerry engineers to help develop new smartphones


Blackberry is not the focus here. The fact that people previously laid off, now have jobs.

Blackberry, because of its own ineptitude, could not hold on to it's talent. Happy for the engineers.

Blackberry always.....

Yes, is good to see that they are getting jobs soon, didn't mean to disregard that, just wanted to comment on the other part of the story.

BB addict, you said it!

BB fires 50% of staff! what do they expect?

The 55 million dollar, jet flying, BS talking, previous CEO crowd destroyed this Company.

Now those fine engineers will be respected and compensated for their talents elsewhere. And Chens Blackberry will continue to lose market share.

Yup! Sad. I've always said BlackBerry will be a great case study of how not to run a business. Every threat is real and ignoring it is not the way

Posted Via CB10 on my Zed 30

Hopefully those engineers can help delay product launches, cause random reboots and damage ZTE

Posted via CB10

Happy they found a job after getting laid off. Suck BlackBerry couldn't hold them.

Triple D's 4G on BB! 

"...enhance our product security and design capability."

Better not be anything proprietary to BB. They probably will skate in China, but that won't fly in Europe or North America.

Public Mobile carry the ZTE phones, but I'm not sure about other carriers in Canada or the USA. 60 million sales is pretty impressive given the tough competition in the Android hardware market.

So here's the big question, will ZTE be making a qwerty?

- Disco Trooper CB10Z10

ZTE is kinda big tho. They do have a high end line called the nubia. Those are impressive phone's for a little price compared to the "more known" brands.

They do also make windows phone's. There should be a high end nubia windows phone soon aswell. Pretty impressive specs for a windowsphone.

So they ain't really a small and unknown brand in their mainland!

Posted via CB10

Their 3G/4G modems are quite average, always found the Huawei ones to work a lot better here in Australia where they are sold by Telstra. Optus mainly uses Huawei.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

I am sure the BlackBerry lawyers will be keeping a close eye on this company once the former employees have started working there and releasing products.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry needs to keep its "Security" Patents protected. I hate seeing companies copying them.
Just look at BlackBerry's Marvel Gesture based OS. Best OS out to date, yet we see iOS copying portions of it.

It's ridiculous. BlackBerry should be going after anybody for stealing from them.

Posted via CB10

BBRY should license BB10 to ZTE - maybe then we would see more diversity in devices and get a tablet sooner as an entity other than BBRY would be taking the risk.

BBRY should not license BB10 only to ZTE, but also to SAMSUNG, HTC, LG, HUAWEI..
Since there is a low competition in the OS market (Google and Apple DON'T compete) BB10 could be a CASH COW for BBRY.
But it probably NEVER will.
I think BBRY has already showed in hardware (abandoning lucrative tablet market, handsets delays, overpricing devices, no marketing..) that the last thing it (people behind Heins, Chen,.. ) wants is to COMPETE with "big guys".

The OS is a commodity now.

Android is free, and even Microsoft have announced plans to give away their phone OS basically for free (attempt to gain market share?). Haven't checked on that one lately.

Security might be the only area where they (BB) could score points, but when you licence software, too many details might leak, to the detriment of the security side of the platform. And it would no longer be a solution out of one hand.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

If you take a look at the article on mobile syrup (or just do a web search for "the tablet market is dying" (without quotes), you'll see laptops are starting to regain dominance and also, only apple's tablets seem to be selling better than android tablets for sure. They also quoted that the smartphone has now become the tablet. Lol. (no such jabs at anyone)

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

So maybe ZTE will make a phone with a physical keyboard. Fingers crossed...

Posted with no typos using the Q10

I don't see anything wrong with this the people higher education were fire am I correct? So who cares.

Posted via CB10

My mom uses an old ZTE that looks like the curve 8900. ZTE is hoping to make even better knock offs?

Posted via CB10

If they develop a smartphone with the security and functionality of BlackBerry phones, I'm going to buy their phones. I'm betting they know how to market much better than BlackBerry and have products/updated OS's delivered on time.

Posted via CB10

It's the carriers that DELAY the operating system updates, not blackberry.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

In order to keep their engineers in Waterloo BlackBerry should at least start advertising their devises in the same manner that the competition does. NONE of my friends were aware of the existence of BB10 devises until I showed them my Z10 which I bought last September.

Posted via CB10

Well said. BlackBerry OS 10 is over 16 months and people ask me, "Oooh that's a BlackBerry? I didn't know they have new phones out!"

Posted Via CB10 on my Zed 30

The commies dont follow our rules so why the h ell would they give them the technology. How stupid would that be? Would you give the commies your SS# address and bank account numbers?
Wow how dumb have people gotten?

Maybe they'll make a new OS as well. Something that isn't Android, Windows, or iOS. It's time for something original in the market!

emPowered by 

The way things are headed BB10 will be Android with a Hub :/

Chen hasn't given us a sign he's confident in BB10's future and will in turn focus on IoT.

Time will tell.

emPowered by 

"Poaching of senior talent between companies isn't anything new..."

Is not poaching when they're recruiting former employees.

I think BlackBerry should licence BlackBerry 10 to ZTE at a very low cost. This will then allow ZTE to produce high quality devices to be marketed in China & East Asia competitively.

Let the Chinese phones fill the gap of the lower cost phones & BlackBerry concentrate on the higher cost devices. This will then help to create critical mass for the BlackBerry App ecosystem which is so lacking now. This will then be the turn around of BlackBerry & BlackBerry will then again be the No. 1 again.

Posted via CB10

You forgot that BB10 is simply a front-end for QNX. QNX is licensed just about *everywhere*.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

Here's a common misunderstanding I didn't realized until now, China is not like other east Asia countries, cheap products may work here, but will definitely destroy the company's reputation and future development. Simple fact is, we Chinese don't like low cost things, we like better things, or in some cases, more expensive things (even if it's not better). Cheap products don't interest us, and people who are interested in cheap products will not be BB's target customers. So for a company who wants to find a way in China (if BlackBerry even wants to), they need to play high end card, not low end. Check out Star Bucks, Pizza Hut, even MacDonald, KFC, there are plenty of good examples out there.

It's simple BlackBerry needs to market and sell their phones. Then they can hold onto talent and hire new. Chen stepped into a firestorm but I remain hopeful. He's one great device away from bringing BlackBerry back into the fold. The launch will be key. I hope they don't launch until actually available.

Posted via CB10

I think they ain't even allowed to speak about blackberry. I think it's something you sign in your contracts.

Even some normal shops do these things. Some even won't allow you to work at an other shop in the same branche.

Not sure tho, but I think something it's something similar

Posted via CB10

Good for ZTE and the engineers. Too bad BlackBerry didn't keep what it needed to make decent phones. Smart talented people are what make a good company.

Z30 / STA100-5 / / T-Mobile USA

Yeah we all hoped that, and cheered when the new CEO decided to work with Foxconn. Yet they start building those phones in China, and selling them in Indonesia.......sigh.......

As some people have states, it's obvious. For BlackBerry to keep people in Waterloo they have to stop laying them off. Happy that these employees have options.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

I think earning 25 dollar for a licence will be 25 dollar and with an android store you have both world to choose. Secure phone and little lesse downloading android apps but still you can choose wise what to download my friend.

Posted via CB10

You mean license only the front-end to QNX? Because that's all essentially it is, a shell, like Cinnamon, KDE, XFCE, GNOME/Shell is to GNU/Linux.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

No, he means Licensing the BB10 OS. And it would be a good idea to a certain extent. I am sure companies like SONY and LG would love a chance to escape Android.
Samsung is the only company making $$$ on Android hardware. That's it.

Posted via CB10

Sometimes I wish that BlackBerry would advertise more and make owning a BlackBerry branded device more exciting to own, but then again, I like being original and owning something that no one else has around me which is pretty darn exciting as well. What a dilemma???? Well Congrats to those engineers that found employment..

Bidagreat using the magnificent Z10

Fully agree. They need good Marketing to help promote and push BB10.

I believe John Chen wants to conserve as much cash as possible just until he executes his plan, and he likes the progress. Then only then will he consider Stronger Strategic Marketing for BB10.

Posted via CB10

Anyone who wants to buy made in chiba phone? Me? NO. I'm still proud that my BlackBerrys were made in Mexico and Hungary ...

Posted via CB10

So what are these Smartphones running? Android? Good luck making an Android Secure. Ain't happening anytime soon nor in the foreseeable future. That's unless BlackBerry stops innovating. And that ain't happening either.

BlackBerry long and hard.

Posted via CB10

Actually Google is working on security as they're targeting the enterprise world in the very near future.

emPowered by 

Which ones? The ones that botched the PlayBook? That made those old shitty devices that cannot get GPS until OS 6 was installed? Those devices that need constant battery pulls?

Posted via CB10

The first decision of every CEO after own failure to compensate the financial damage (Lazaridis, Heins): mass layoff! BlackBerry deserves to be involved now in competition with own know how which was given away! It sucks to come face to face again and again with the original sin of Lazaridis, Boulben, Heins... Chen seems to be the first CEO since years who recognized the need of market!
But (and I cant say it not often enough) up to now nobody at BlackBerry realized the need for MORE and AGGRESSIVE advertising!!! BlackBerry is invisible in the media! Double sucking! :-(

I can't see this company having anything on BlackBerry.

I am not sure that I have seen a single ZTE phone in Vancouver.... EVER!

Am I missing something??

no offence, but yeah, you missed that North America is not the whole world. I bet ZTE sold most of the phones just in China or south-east Asia, Africa, and it's safe to say that they are not the biggest local phone maker there, not in the top 5. Part of the reason you never heard of it is that they are not quite focusing on phones or their own brand phones, they do quite some OEM phones, and their main focus is actually on communication infrastructure, like Huawei.

I pretty sure BlackBerry has kept the talent it wants to keep. The people they laid off weren't needed after bb10 got released ( coders) but no need to worry the real brains are still working for BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

These engineers are radio stack developers, not security, not apps, BlackBerry couldn't afford to maintain its own radio stack development, and so has to stuck with the inferior performance of qualcomm, like 90% of the market. ZTE and other companies I won't name have recognised they need better performance to stand out.

PS It's no secret - Chen admitted the fact they couldn't afford to keep developing their own radio stack

Posted via CB10

I'm a Chinese. I have to say something about this. You know what ZTE said in our country's news? They said they bought blackberry's phone apartment. Come on! The moment I saw the news I came here to confirm...although it's not the first time being cheated by the news but I'm still pretty mad about this. Can this company be more disgusting??? I never bought a ZTE phone before and won't ever. Shame.

Posted via CB10

Ha, I am Chinese living in China and know very much about where 40m of ZTE devices ended up. 90% of ZTE devices has gone to the underclass who earn much less and live lives on a tight budget.

And, Out with the truth! China's manufacturing industry is literally getting a deteriorating reputation.