Around a week ago, the world read the news that BlackBerry had revoked the licence to manufacture smartphones using its name from OnwardMobility. At the time, the news came as a leak from Kevin Michaluk of CrackBerry in a blog post and corroborated by the folks over at Android Police.
But we now have an official statement from OnwardMobility confirming the death of the 5G-enabled Blackberry smartphone with a physical keyboard. The statement was published via its website, which is now void of any other content.
The company wrote, “We want to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support that you have given us since we first launched OnwardMobility. However, it is with great sadness that we announce that OnwardMobility will be shutting down, and we will no longer be proceeding with the development of an ultra-secure smartphone with a physical keyboard.”
Before this statement was published, Android Police speculated that OnwardMobility might salvage the dead BlackBerry project to produce a phone of its own. However, it looks like the company is shutting down entirely as a result of BlackBerry’s decision to quit the smartphone race. This was evident when BlackBerry announced it completely sold its legacy mobile patent assets for USD600 million (~RM2.5 billion) to a consortium of companies called Catapult IP Innovations Inc.
As of writing, BlackBerry themselves have yet to release a statement on this matter.
The CEO of OnwardMobility, Peter Franklin, had big goals for the new 5G BlackBerry smartphone, with it to feature the signature QWERTY keyboard, a “top-of-the-line” camera and 5G connectivity, which he told Nikkei during an interview back in early 2021.
He said, “It is a global flagship device, and Asia is very important to us”, followed by “We are in the process of speaking to customers and mobile carriers on a global scale to develop our distribution plan.” So, maybe the phone could have been officially sold in Malaysia?
OnwardMobility’s 5G BlackBerry smartphone was originally planned to ship in the first half of 2021. However, due to logistical and supply delays caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the company was forced to delay the phone indefinitely. Then at the beginning of 2022, OnwardMobility, via a twitter post, reassured fans that a new BlackBerry phone is still in development with more regular updates on the progress. The company even misquoted Mark Twain saying “Contrary to popular belief, we are not dead.” How ironic that must feel right now.
But I guess now, BlackBerry fans will never find out what the smartphone could have been and how it might have shaken the smartphone market. But even if the phone was realised, do you think that it could have competed with the Apples and Samsungs of the world? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.