[THE INVESTOR] Chinese electronics company TCL Corp. is reportedly reviewing plans to launch the BlackBerry KeyOne in South Korea via local carrier SK Telecom within this year.
The information was made public by Nicolas Zibell, the chief executive of TCL Communication Technology Holdings, a subsidiary of TCL Corp., who spoke to the local media in Seoul last week.
“There are around 100,000 BlackBerry users in Korea. We’re currently conducting a market study and positively reviewing the launch of the BlackBerry KeyOne here,” Zibell said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
According to the TCL Communication executive, the Chinese smartphone maker is working exclusively with SKT, Korea’s biggest mobile carrier, to bring the new BlackBerry phone to Korea.
TCL plans to start selling the BlackBerry KeyOne in markets in North America and Western Europe from April, Zibell said. However, the company will not be launching the mobile device simultaneously in global markets, he added.
The BlackBerry KeyOne, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, sports a 4.5-inch (11.4-centimeter) liquid-crystal display screen and a physical keyboard attached below the screen. It runs on the Android 7.1 Nougat operating system and is compatible with Google’s flagship services.
In the US, the BlackBerry KeyOne is priced at $549. TCL has yet to set a price for the mobile device in Korea, according to Yonhap.
China-based TCL acquired the right to use the BlackBerry brand for its future phones and to sell them in global markets by signing a deal with Canada-based BlackBerry in December 2016.
The BlackBerry KeyOne was the first phone unveiled by TCL since the Chinese company bought the rights to the BlackBerry brand.
Prior to the acquisition, TCL had worked with BlackBerry as its manufacturing partner. The Chinese company has built two Android-based BlackBerry phones so far -- the DTEK50 and DTEK60.
By Sohn Ji-young / The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)