We still don’t know much about Mercury, the upcoming BlackBerry handset manufactured by Chinese tech company TCL, but we now know it will be the last handset designed and engineered in-house by BlackBerry.

 

CEO John Chen confirmed as much Thursday during a press event at CES, reiterating his desire to get BlackBerry out of the handset business.

“The last model we engineered and designed ourself, yes that will be the last one,” Chen said of the Mercury, which will be released sometime in 2017.

That may sound like bad news for BlackBerry loyalists but the CEO said the shift will actually enable the company to get more of its handsets on the market via partnerships since it will no longer need to devote its resources to hardware.

There’s going to be more BlackBerry phones out there

Instead of investing in costly hardware, BlackBerry will work with partners, like TCL, who will create their own BlackBerry-branded handsets.

“What you’re going to see over time is more phones. There’s going to be more BlackBerry phones out there because now I have multiple parties creating and distributing and I have a local party to compete in the local space — countries which I normally can’t compete with,” Chen said.

Whether the power of the BlackBerry brand will hold once the company completely hands over the reins to its partners is an another matter. Chen said he believed demand for the devices would persist, particularly in the enterprise space and within governments.

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