There’s yet another twist in the ongoing saga of the BlackBerry phone with a physical keyboard, which was promised by licensee OnwardMobility by mid-2021.
Android Police reported yesterday, citing fan site CrackBerry founder Kevin Michaluk, that OnwardMobility has lost its license to the BlackBerry name just a month after it published its blog post asserting that it is not dead, and that a device is forthcoming.
The news comes after BlackBerry sold its legacy patents for $600 million, while retaining a license to use them. It’s unclear what Catapult IP Innovations plans on doing with the BlackBerry patents it has acquired. Little is known about the mysterious Delaware-registered acquirer that was specifically formed to purchase these patents.
In August 2020, BlackBerry announced that it had given a license to Texas-based OnwardMobility to design, produce, and market a new 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with keyboard after TCL Technologies let its license lapse. The device was expected to ship by June 2021. However, June came and went without any word from OnwardMobility. The company remained silent until its blog in January of this year, which promised more information for both potential customers and media “soon”. This, alas, is not the kind of news we’d hoped for.
Android Police said that its sources cited continued supply chain-related delays, combined with BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s change of heart around another BlackBerry-branded smartphone, as factors that led to the decision. OnwardMobility decided not to go ahead with the phone when it was no longer able to use the BlackBerry name. It is unknown whether the company will even continue to exist since it has yet to ship a product since its incorporation in 2018.
We have reached out to both BlackBerry and OnwardMobility for comment.
However, as Michaluk observed in his 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 it’s probably best for all of us to forget about this train wreck. Well, train wreck is too complimentary as it would imply they built a train that they then wrecked. They never got that far.”