BlackBerry exited the smartphone industry, but it keeps making strategic partnerships and licensing deals with various companies to expand the availability of BlackBerry-branded smartphones.

The Canadian company already has license agreements in place with TCL Communication and BB Merah Putih, allowing them to design, manufacture and sell BlackBerry-branded handsets in various regions.

New BlackBerry Optiemus Licensing Agreement

Moving forward with its plans to expand the availability of BlackBerry-branded smartphones, BlackBerry has now signed another major licensing deal aiming to reach 1.5 billion potential smartphone users across India and other markets. The latest deal brings BlackBerry in business with Optiemus Infracom, which will release BlackBerry-branded smartphones in India. For reference, Optiemus Infracom is the same company that BlackBerry relied on to distribute its DTEK50 and DTEK60 Android smartphones across India.

"We found ourselves so impressed with Optiemus's professionalism and expertise that we quickly sought to deepen our partnership," BlackBerry touts in a new press release announcing the latest deal.

With this new strategic partnership in place, BlackBerry says that Optiemus will have the rights to "design, manufacture, sell, promote and support" BlackBerry-branded smartphones in India and other neighboring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"Together, that encompasses nearly 1.5 billion people, most of whom have never owned a smartphone before," BlackBerry further adds.

The company pledges to push regular updates to keep those devices up to date in terms of security.

BlackBerry Strategic Partnerships

Simply put, BlackBerry has exited the smartphone market only in the sense that it's not making smartphones by itself anymore. Instead, it relies on other companies to manufacture and distribute BlackBerry-branded hardware. It's a similar model to that of recently-reborn Nokia, with is now bringing Nokia-branded smartphones to market via Finnish company HMD Global.

The new agreement with Optiemus Infracom marks BlackBerry's third licensing deal in the last few months, aiming to ensure that BlackBerry-branded smartphones will expand their availability in every important market across the world.

BlackBerry Comeback Efforts

BlackBerry (formerly known as Research in Motion, or RIM) was once at the top of the smartphone market, known worldwide for its enterprise-grade smartphones with a heavy focus on security. The Canadian company started losing significant ground to rivals, however, and it slipped far behind other smartphone makers such as Apple, Samsung and others.

The company has been trying to keep its head above the water for several years now and make a powerful comeback, but it has yet to succeed. Its latest efforts finally saw it shift to Android as a last attempt to relive its glory days, and the strategic partnerships with other companies are part of the same bid to make the BlackBerry brand strong again.

In regard to the latest deal with Optiemus, BlackBerry notes that it's not only supporting the Indian government's "Make in India" initiative by creating local job opportunities and manufacturing, but it also marks a major milestone toward its goal to put "the smart in the phone."

In other news, BlackBerry partner TCL is expected to announce the BlackBerry Mercury soon, introducing the device as the latest Android-powered BlackBerry smartphone.

The much-rumored BlackBerry Mercury could make its official debut on Feb. 25, but it may not go on sale until late March.

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