OnwardMobility, a startup tech company, announced in August 2020 that it was working to develop a new smartphone with the BlackBerry brand. Few details about the device were revealed, besides that it would have a physical keyboard and would arrive in the first half of 2021. That didn’t happen, and now the company has reportedly hit a significant roadblock.
Kevin Michaluk, founder of CrackBerry, reports that the in-development 5G BlackBerry phone is dead. He wrote in a forum post, “We’ll see if they actually post a formal update to their blog or not, but my guess would be that John Chen/BlackBerry prefers they just go quietly away (he’s clearly done with phones) and at this point its probably best for all of us to forgot about this train wreck.” Android Police also corroborated the report.
OnwardMobility has not publicly confirmed the claim — the company’s latest statement was in January, where it reassured that the phone was still in development. The post read, “while we encountered various delays that prevented us from shipping in 2021, we will be providing more regular updates starting this month that will clarify and answer many of your questions about the ultra-secure 5G enterprise smartphone (still with a keyboard!) we’re bringing to market.”
Following BlackBerry’s decision to stop producing its own smartphones, the company gave a license to TCL, which later produced devices like the BlackBerry KEYone and KEY2. The final BlackBerry device from TCL was the KEYY2 LE in 2018.
OnwardMobility might be able to release the phone without BlackBerry name, but without the iconic branding, the finished product would likely not sell as well as the original concept. Unihertz released an Android phone with a physical keyboard last year, the Titan Pocket, and there have been a handful of other similar devices in the past few years.
Most (if not all) of the senior staff at OnwardMobility appear to still be at the company, according to their public LinkedIn profiles.
Featured image: BlackBerry Key2 LE