TORONTO Feb 18 BlackBerry Ltd
Chief Executive John Chen fired a salvo at T-Mobile US Inc
on Tuesday, calling ill-conceived a promotion run by
the company that encourages customers using BlackBerry
smartphones to upgrade to iPhones.
T-Mobile US, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom AG
, sent out emails to some of its customers last week,
pitching them free iPhone 5s and touting the promotion as a
"great offer for BlackBerry customers".
That sparked a brouhaha in social media forums after some of
the telecom company's loyal BlackBerry client base reacted
angrily to the offer, which they perceived as a slight.
The backlash prompted T-Mobile US Chief Executive John
Legere to respond publicly. In a Twitter posting on Sunday,
Legere said T-Mobile would continue to support BlackBerry
smartphones and he assured BlackBerry users that they do not
have to give up their devices or "loyalty".
In a blog post on Tuesday, BlackBerry CEO Chen slammed the
T-Mobile US offer as a "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived
marketing promotion" and he thanked the BlackBerry user base for
their loyalty to the company.
"Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us
at BlackBerry, and draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of
our longtime business partner," Chen said in the posting, noting
that T-Mobile had not discussed its promotion with BlackBerry.
BlackBerry, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry,
has been struggling in recent years to claw back market share
lost to Apple Inc's iPhone, Samsung's
Galaxy devices, and other smartphones powered by Google Inc's
Android operating system.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company's new line of BlackBerry
10 devices has so far failed to win back market share, and Chen
is attempting to reshape the company and focus less on the
handset segment, and more on the company's services business.
Chen has stressed, however, that the handset business
remains a core component for BlackBerry as the company attempts
to engineer a turnaround.
Chen called on T-Mobile US to "find a way forward that
allows us to serve our shared customers once again".
T-Mobile could not be reached immediately for comment.