The first android powered smartphone BlackBerry KEYone from the stables of TCL has now arrived and is being positioned as the “most secure” Android smartphone.
For long BlackBerry had remained the choice option of smartphones for the military, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments. This stemmed from BlackBerry’s reputation as the most secure phone. Among notable users of BlackBerry were Barack Obama, the earlier President of the United States of America, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. These global leaders were not using the BlackBerrys off-the-shelf, but they did certainly choose a BlackBerry smartphone as a starting point for these high profile and crucial communication. The same distinction can be claimed by few others in the smartphones space.
Why BlackBerry KEYone may have a rough ride with military and Governments
BlackBerry KEYone comes from the stables of TCL Corporation and has all the features of a BlackBerry including the much-acclaimed Security designed and monitored directly by BlackBerry. But, when it comes to assuaging concerns on espionage, the Chinese connection can become a huge deterrent in the path ahead for BlackBerry phones emerging from the TCL stable.
What if TCL is a Chinese Company?
There are many smartphone manufacturers on the Chinese soil and therefore how is the Chinese connection going to impact the fortunes of BlackBerry? Well, the answer is that the Chinese government has a 16% stake in TCL and that could be a drag for military and governments in other nations to go for the new BlackBerry KEYone. If the government stake in the company was not enough, Mr.LI Dongsheng, Chairman of TCL was also elected as a representative of Communist Party of China’s 16th National Congress. Historically, the United States has prevented Chinese manufacturers with even an element of suspicion of being state owned from selling their products to some of the designated key industries. In the past, ZTE and Huawei faced harsh scrutiny for their smartphones and telecommunication equipment. In the case of Huawei, Washington is convinced that undisclosed connections exist between the company and the Chinese government. Therefore, the suspicion, that equipment manufactured by them could surreptitiously carry software capable of triggering cyber warfare including network disruption and/or espionage. Understandably, Huawei has denied these fears.
United States of America is not alone to pose a challenge for BlackBerry KEYone
It is not just the USA that is wary of smartphone manufacturers with Chinese connections. A recent EU report has also called for action against Telecom firms from the Chinese soil. The report states that all EU participants in the telecom sector including experts in the industry view the growing presence of telecom manufacturers from China as a major risk to security.
The Chinese government has significant investment in TCL Corporation and this could pose a hurdle to BlackBerry’s aspirations to regain lost space in the smartphone space, particularly in the Western markets. On the Flip side, however, BlackBerry enjoys an established market, particularly in the Asian region.