BlackBerry's new CEO John Chen is taking issue with what appears to be a fairly innocent T-Mobile promotion. Last week, T-Mobile sent out an email to some customers currently using a BlackBerry phone urging them to upgrade to Apple's iPhone 5S for no money down. Now, it seems like Chen has taken a somewhat-unreasonable amount of offense to the promotion — he's just penned a blog post in which he says he's "outraged" over T-Mobile's promotion. In the post, Chen applauds BlackBerry users who reached out to T-Mobile to defend the beleaguered phone maker, and says that loyalty "draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of our longtime business partner."
"I can assure you that we are outraged too," Chen goes on to write. "What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion." Speaking directly to T-Mobile, Chen reminds the carrier "that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile" and says that he hopes "we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again."
Of course, it's worth noting that T-Mobile doesn't currently sell any modern BlackBerry smartphones (aside from a refurbished Q10) — so BlackBerry customers on T-Mobile don't exactly have a lot of options if they want to upgrade to a newer device. And when you're the extreme underdog like BlackBerry is right now, you have to make all the noise you can to rally your supporters. But Chen's reaction still feels a bit extreme, and calling this an "anti-BlackBerry" campaign reeks of hyperbole.
That said, it does seem that BlackBerry fans have made their preference for the platform known — T-Mobile's controversial CEO John Legere tweeted that he was hearing BlackBerry fans "loud and clear" and he also noted that the carrier would continue to support BlackBerry devices. So BlackBerry fans should be able to buy whatever device they choose and bring it to T-Mobile, if they are so inclined.
BlackBerry users, I'm hearing you loud and clear. Let me work with the team and get back with you.— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 16, 2014
Update: This post has been updated to include T-Mobile CEO John Legere's response on Twitter to Blackberry users.
Update 2, 8:15PM ET: T-Mobile has issued a formal response to Chen's post and the controversy surrounding last week's promotion in which the carrier reaffirmed its commitment to the BlackBerry platform. Furthermore, T-Mobile is offering customers free expedited shipping of BlackBerry devices by the end of this week. Of course, it's worth noting that BlackBerry still only offers the refurbished Q10 and two other BlackBerry 7 devices on its consumer sales portal — but you might have luck finding other devices if you call or visit a store.
T-Mobile's full statement is below:
Customers can purchase some of the latest BlackBerry devices from T-Mobile – including the Q10 and Z10 that we have carried since they launched. They can buy and direct ship devices from more than 3,000 T-Mobile retail stores and as an additional courtesy to our BlackBerry customers, we will begin offering free expedited shipping of BlackBerry devices by Friday. Customers can also bring unlocked BlackBerry devices to T-Mobile. We are happy to be a BlackBerry partner and apologize for any confusion.
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