Today, Optiemus Infracom Limited announced they are launching the BlackBerry KEYone in India and will be available as of August 8th as an Amazon India Exclusive. This is awesome news for BlackBerry fans in India, because one of the most frequently asked questions I have received this year is Will the KEYone launch in India?
For many months I wasn't sure if it actually would, for good reason. As we clarified earlier this year, there are currently three companies that BlackBerry has licensed the BlackBerry brand to for the manufacture and sale of BlackBerry Smartphones: TCL Communication, Optiemus Infracom and BB Merah Putih. Optiemus has the rights to BlackBerry in India and BB Merah Putih to Indonesia, while China-based TCL Communication is the main partner globally supporting markets including North America, Europe, the Middle East, China and Latin America.
With TCL owning the hardware design of the BlackBerry KEYone, there was no guarantee that India would get a KEYone as TCL didn't have the rights to launch it in that market. That said, the launch of the KEYone in India by Optiemus shows that BlackBerry's hardware licensee partners can work together if they choose to.
The launch of the KEYone in India by Optiemus shows that BlackBerry's hardware licensee partners can work together if they choose to
In this case, it appears that Optiemus and TCL Communication struck a deal for TCL to supply KEYone components to Optiemus so they could launch the KEYone in India. I don't know the full logistics of how this hardware deal works, but what I can tell you is that the Optiemus BlackBerry KEYone I'm holding feels 100% a KEYone - the design, materials and build quality are of that same premium standard I've come to expect from a KEYone. It looks and feels identical.
[Update: After noticing that the box my Optiemus KEYone arrived in said the device was Made in China and manufactured by TCL and Imported by Optiemus, I reached out to Optiemus for further clarification. They noted that the first lot of Limited Edition Black devices ("just a few devices") was provided to them by TCL but come September the units shipping to customers will be Made in India.]
That said, there are a couple of differences under the hood from the KEYone units I have experienced to date - the Optiemus KEYone is shipping with 4GB of ram and 64GB of storage, the ability to run dual SIM cards and it is also available in a version labeled "Limited Edition Black." I love the look - I'd love to see TCL bring this blacked-out color scheme to their markets as well.
When it comes to the marketing, sales, distribution and support of the KEYone in India, this all being driven by Optiemus (not TCL Communication). Optiemus' marketing is aimed at the local Indian market, and if you buy an Optiemus KEYone, any/all customer support for this phone will be handled by Optiemus (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also find them on twitter at @bbmobileindia and on Facebook.
When it comes to the marketing, sales, distribution and support of the KEYone in India, this all being driven by Optiemus (not TCL Communication)
I think it's also important to note that while Optiemus is launching the KEYone, I don't think this means we can nor should expect all of the BlackBerry hardware licensees to always work together in this fashion. Just as BB Merah Putih launched the BlackBerry Aurora all-touch phone in Indonesia, I'd expect to see Optiemus to launch some BlackBerry phones of their own design. And I wouldn't expect all future TCL-built BlackBerry models to be available from Optiemus.
I think reception to the KEYone globally has been so fantastic that for this particular phone both parties wanted to make the roll out of KEYone in India happen.
Bottomline, the KEYone is coming to India and if you live there and buy a BlackBerry KEYone from Optiemus, you should expect the same awesome device experience that so many other KEYone owners have been enjoying.