You may have heard a little about TCL recently after it acquired an exclusive license to build and sell phones under the Blackberry brand. Interesting decision, to take a failed mobile brand and hope to rejuvenate it.
This isn't its first such move though and I'm wondering whether TCL is lining itself up for a much bigger push into the smartphone space in 2017.
Blackberry is obviously a hugely important name in smartphone history, however it failed to react quickly enough to the iPhone and Android and its final phones were interesting rather than desirable.
Tellingly, the best smartphones wearing the Balckberry brand have been the DTEK devices launched in the last few months. Phones that are rebadged versions of Alcatel devices, manufactured by TCL.
TCL has the rights to manufacture phones under the Alcatel brand as a result of its buyout of Alcatel from its original joint venture. Whilst Alcatel isn't the biggest name in smartphones, its recent Windows 10 Mobile Idol 4S was a statement of intent. A move out of its core Android market and into a higher market sector, albeit in insanely niche one.
Blackberry and Alcatel aren't the only brands TCl is packing though. It also purchased the Palm brand from HP not so very long ago and to me this could prove to be the place where it can apply real pressure to break into the mainstream market.
Everyone loves Palm. Its especially strong in the US and paired with a Blackberry stablemate and a focused Alcatel brand for Europe, TCL has opportunities to grow its business through 2017.
These old brands are no guarantee of success - nostalgia can only carry you so far - but decent devices can have their desirability elevated by playing on that nostalgia. Be interesting to see how TCL plays out its hand next year.