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Dead or alive? Here's what's happening with BlackBerry phones (Updated)
- Onward Mobility has reportedly canceled its Blackberry-branded 5G phone.
- The company first announced the project in August 2020.
Updated: February 11, 2022 (3:31 AM ET): Android Police has now corroborated CrackBerry‘s claim that a BlackBerry-branded 5G phone is no longer in the works. The outlet, citing its own sources, says the cancellation was due to Onward Mobility’s supply chain challenges as well as BlackBerry deciding against licensing the brand for smartphones.
It’s worth noting that Android Police didn’t say Onward Mobility itself was dead (as CrackBerry did), but mooted the possibility of the firm shutting down or releasing a new phone without the BlackBerry branding. We’ll likely have to wait for official comment from the smartphone firm then.
Original article: February 11, 2022 (2:11 AM ET): We first heard about startup Onward Mobility’s plans to offer new BlackBerry-branded phones back in August 2020. At the time, the company confirmed that these “new 5G BlackBerry phones” were coming in 2021. But this launch window clearly didn’t happen.
It then claimed in a January 2022 blog post that it wasn’t dead and that a keypad-toting 5G phone would be on the way (although the BlackBerry name wasn’t mentioned in this post). Unfortunately, CrackBerry has now reported that Onward Mobility is indeed dead, citing multiple sources for the information.
What caused this turn of events?
This latest report comes after two significant BlackBerry stories broke earlier this year. Back in January, both BlackBerry 10 and a host of BlackBerry Android apps reached end-of-life status. Then just a few weeks ago, BlackBerry announced that it was selling its mobile, messaging, and wireless networking patents for roughly $600 million.
The sale of these patents suggests BlackBerry wants to leave its consumer smartphone past behind, perhaps extending to its brand licensing efforts. It doesn’t help that some of the company’s Android apps such as the BlackBerry Launcher, DTEK security suite, and Privacy Shade all reached end-of-life status. So any company hoping to build a BlackBerry-branded Android phone wouldn’t have access to these services.
We’ve asked Onward Mobility’s representatives to confirm the news and will update the article if/when they get back to us. Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be a massive surprise if true, as the company hasn’t really dished out details regarding the new product/products since announcing its plans in 2020.