This probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but it’s looking like you won’t be able to buy a 5G smartphone with the BlackBerry name on it anytime soon.
A company called OnwardMobility had announced plans a few years ago to license the BlackBerry name and use it for an upcoming 5G Android phone with a physical keyboard. Earlier this year, the company released a blog post to let us know… it’s not dead. But that BlackBerry-branded phone? It probably is.
CrackBerry founder Kevin Michaluk says that “multiple sources” tell him that the phone is dead “as of yesterday,” or February 9, 2022. And the folks at Android Police say they were able to independently confirm that with their own sources.
Apparently BlackBerry really, really wants out of the smartphone business. The company stopped developing its own operating system a while back, and released the BlackBerry Priv, the first and only BlackBerry-made smartphone to ship with Android software.
Then BlackBerry stopped making its own phones at all, instead licensing its name and some apps and services to third-party device makers who could produce Android phones and sell them under the BlackBerry brand. OnwardMobility was hoping to become the latest of those.
But it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new BlackBerry-branded phone, so far in 2022 we’ve seen BlackBerry:
- Shut down its legacy services for BlackBerry OS.
- Announce it would be sunsetting its Android apps this summer.
- Sell off its patents related to mobile devices, messaging, and wireless patents.
Android Police suggests that the company wants “to further distance itself from its days as a smartphone vendor” and that the license granted to OnwardMobility to use the BlackBerry name has been canceled, and AndroidPolice indicates that without that license, the company has chosen not to continue working to bring its planned phone to market.
It’s possible that if global supply chain issues hadn’t caused delays in OnwardMobility’s plans to develop and bring a new BlackBerry phone to market, maybe it would have hit the streets by now. But a combination of those delays and BlackBerry’s shifting focus seem to have doomed the project.