Just weeks after announcing that it would definitely launch a new BlackBerry-branded phone in 2022, OnwardMobility has announced an immediate shutdown. The company will no longer be making a new Blackberry phone, and the future of the storied brand in mobile technology again appears bleak.
The Texas-based company had acquired rights to use the BlackBerry brand for mobile in 2020, with a phone initially planned for launch in 2021. When that didn’t pan out, the company also announced that it was still on track, but it would just take a little bit longer. With supply chain issues affecting companies as large as Samsung, it was understandable that a small startup would be unable to make headway.
“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. Please know that this was not a decision that we made lightly or in haste. We share your disappointment in this news and assure you this is not the outcome we worked and hoped for,” the OnwardMobility team announced in February. It wasn’t exactly out of the blue. A report earlier in the month revealed the startup had lost the rights to the BlackBerry brand.
BlackBerry hasn’t been particularly successful in the post-iPhone world. The company tried to compete on two fronts by launching the Blackberry 10 to take on the iPhone and the PlayBook OS to take on modern tablets. Both efforts failed spectacularly.
A partnership with TCL saw the company launch phones like the KeyOne and Key2. While lauded for their niche designs, neither were commercial successes in a world grown accustomed to touchscreen keyboards. With failure after failure, it might be time to call it quits — and whispers from former BlackBerry enthusiast publication CrackBerry indicate the brand was thinking along the same lines.
The BlackBerry brand was a good and respected brand in the 2000s, but these fruitless revivals aren’t doing the name any favors. Much like Nokia and its endless parade of aggressively mediocre clones, yet another failed BlackBerry revival will lead to the brand name being even more associated with failure. There’s nothing more embarrassing than not knowing when to leave a party. BlackBerry surely gets the message now.
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