Special Interview with Steve Cistulli, President of TCL North America

After a few failed attempts to get Steve Cistulli, President of TCL North America and GM of BlackberryMobile, on the Blogcast; we decided to get information in another form. Mr. Cistulli is the person who brought the KEYone to the world and are pleased to share this email interview with you.

Steve and his team are more than proud to be part of the BlackBerry brand legacy and they are committed to bring more BlackBerry devices that will have the BlackBerry character in it.

We asked about future devices, but as you can guess they can’t really give us any hints, at least for now. Read the interview below. 

Tell us Little bit about TCL North America, what you do besides BlackBerry Mobile ?

TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (TCL Communication) designs, manufactures and markets an expanding portfolio of mobile and internet products and services worldwide under three key brands – TCL, Alcatel and BlackBerry. With a portfolio of products currently sold in over 160 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, TCL Communication ranks as a top-10 global smartphone manufacturer. In North America, we’re actually one of the top-5 smartphone manufacturers, led by our Alcatel and BlackBerry mobility products, working with all of the major carriers and retailers in the region.

What was the X factor (main reason) for TCL to sign the deal with BlackBerry?

TCL Communication has been a long standing manufacturing partner with BlackBerry Limited, helping make the DTEK 50 and DTEK 60 smartphones, so our new global licensing agreement is a natural evolution of our relationship. With this licensing agreement, we continue to offer exceptional BlackBerry smartphone hardware, ensuring the BlackBerry smartphone legacy lives on giving consumers the most secure mobile experience possible.

Can you explain the relationship with BlackBerry? How close you work with them? How much control do they have on decisions?

BlackBerry Limited and TCL Communication have engaged in a multi-year, long-term licensing partnership. Under this agreement, BlackBerry will license its security software and service suite, as well as related brand assets to TCL Communication who will design, manufacture, sell and provide customer support for BlackBerry branded mobile devices. BlackBerry will continue serving its security, network and government customers, while continuing to control and develop its security and software solutions and maintaining the BlackBerry cloud. TCL Communication will be the exclusive global manufacturer and distributor for all BlackBerry devices with the exception of the following countries: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Now, that we’re over month after the KEYone release, did you dream that the device would be welcomed with so much love and positive reaction?

BlackBerry is a much-loved, iconic brand. For many, their first mobile phone was a BlackBerry, and there is a deep fondness for the outstanding functionality and features that have made BlackBerry mobile devices so beloved. We knew we needed to honor these affections with KEYone, which is why our first BlackBerry Mobile device showcases so many of the features and core functionality that make this new BlackBerry smartphone so distinctly different in the market. This gave fans a no-compromise BlackBerry smartphone that was a true communication first device – especially given how consumers place a high premium on long battery life and security.

With the positive media around the KEYone, how does this make you feel about new devices going forward?

We are very encouraged by the success of KEYone, but we know this sets the bar high for future BlackBerry Mobile devices. This is something we’re extremely mindful of and we carry this with us in everything we’re working on for the future.

What is your favorite KEYone feature?

Since day one with my BlackBerry KEYone, I’ve really been enjoying the extremely long battery life. I’ve used a lot of smartphones in my career, but the KEYone has been the best I’ve ever used when it comes to battery life – which comes it quite handy when I am traveling.

Can you share any hints on future devices with us?

We’re committed to offering our customers a full BlackBerry Mobile portfolio that expands on the current TCL-made BlackBerry smartphones available today – including KEYone, DTEK 60 and DTEK 50.

Did you know of the BlackBerry community before the deal with BlackBerry? Would you like to say something to the fans – the BlackBerry loyalist?

As someone who has worked in our industry for many years, I consider it a great honor and privilege to work with such an iconic mobile brand. We are humbled to have this opportunity and look forward to more great BlackBerry smartphones for fans to enjoy.

Thanks to Steve Cistulli’s communication team for the help with this interview.The interview has  been published simultaneously on BerryIL.com (Roy’s home Site for the Israeli BlackBerry Community).

Roy Shpitalnik

lived the life of a BlackBerry since 2009 so I was first exposed to 8900. With Israeli cellular world history, training and knowledge for more on BlackBerry, I decided to join the community. When the Media bash BlackBerry on regular basis i decided to Join BerryIL.COM. The true must be published. Contact me on Twitter : @SimpleBerryRoy

  • anthogag

    Steve’s replies look pre-made…or maybe computer generated

    The 1st question should be “why are you scared to appear on a UTB blogcast?”

    • Roy shpitalnik

      Why it’s so hard to sit back and have fun ? always complaining… It’s F***King hard to get CEO of big company, and even that not good enough..

      • anthogag

        Your questions for Steve are dull and hardly interesting and his response to the questions is equally dull.

        Why are there are so few comments to articles on this site? Because the articles are so interesting people are left speechless…or they’re boring…

        It’s not easy when BlackBerry is all about security, a dull message to sell.

        • Robert Friedman


          To be honest I’m not sure what you’re expecting – some type of bombshell? That type of news is very, very rare in the mobile space (unless you’re John Legere aka the Donald Trump of T-Mobile…)

          I’m not suggesting you lower your expectations but mobile execs aren’t the most flamboyant types and their Corporate Communications group limits what they can say.

          • anthogag

            I was expecting a human, not a robot and his “communications team”.

            Hints about future devices, he responds with “blah blah blah”

            Would you like to say something to the fans…sure, “blah blah blah”

            • Robert Friedman


              Fair point, his responses appeared very cold and calculated as if he was reading directly from a Q & A script.

              • anthogag

                He doesn’t know his audience. “Cold and calculated” to a bunch of bloggers and BlackBerry fans.

  • Dave Matthews

    Thanks for putting that together Roy. Hopefully Steve can join the cast in the future!