Almost a month ago to the day, it was revealed by The New York Times that BLU - a smartphone manufacturer that largely sells rebranded handsets from Southeast Asia in the US - was among a group of smartphone OEMs with software on their devices sending private user data like text messages back to a company in China. The offending software's behavior was quickly patched with an OTA update to the phone, but the damage, it seemed, was done. BLU and the company who created the software both claim the data theft was entirely accidental, and that all user data the company in China received was promptly deleted. BLU later promised it would remove the software entirely.
But BLU's $50 R1 HD smartphone, the most popular unlocked device on Amazon, had remained unavailable for sale since (though, as BLU pointed out to us, the phone was unavailable for a full three weeks prior to the story, which BLU says was strictly due to supply constraints). Yesterday, though, the AFTV blog noticed that the phone was back on sale. That would mean the R1 HD was unavailable continuously for seven weeks on Amazon - nearly two months - missing the crucial Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale days here in the US.
BLU's reputation has undoubtedly been impacted by the incident last month and, because of its absence, the R1 HD is no longer the best-selling unlocked smartphone on Amazon, having been unseated by the Moto G Play and BLU's own Advance 5.0. Still, that list contains a great deal of BLU phones, and it's not really clear if your average BLU buyer was even likely to have heard about the security story. These are, after all, smartphones that sell largely by virtue of their commodity-like pricing versus an inherent recognition of a brand or reputation.
The fact that Amazon seems content to continue distribution of the phone with its Amazon Exclusive lockscreen ads is a good sign for BLU, though. One had to consider the possibility that Amazon might end the relationship here, as fallout around a security incident like this often can taint a brand or product. But it seems BLU gave Amazon the assurances it needed, at least for now, and things are back to normal as far as the R1 HD is concerned.