There was once hope that a BlackBerry-branded phone might again grace the shelves. In 2022, all those rumors and promises appear to have evaporated.By Nadeem SarwarPublishedShareTweetEmail
Until the start of 2022, there was a sliver of hope that a BlackBerry smartphone would somehow make it to the shelves, but it appears that attempts at reviving the iconic brand have finally gone to the grave. Within the past couple of years, numerous steps and missteps have given BlackBerry fans hope and despair in equal measure. In February 2020, BlackBerry announced that its licensing deal with TCL signed in 2016 for selling BlackBerry-branded phones had ended. In simpler terms, it meant starting Aug. 31 of 2020, no more BlackBerry phones would arrive in the market. And that continues to be the status quo to date.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
But in August, a ray of hope came with an announcement from OnwardMobility that it has partnered with BlackBerry and FIH Mobile Limited to make a 5G-ready phone. More importantly, the company promised that the phone would arrive in 2021, rocking a physical QWERTY keyboard. The last BlackBerry phone to offer that facility was the BlackBerry Key2, which was released in 2018. In July 2021, OnwardMobility launched a Pre-Commitment Program to generate some hype around its upcoming phone. Unfortunately, despite a promise of bringing a BlackBerry phone to the market in 2021, OnwardMobility didn't deliver. In a blog post earlier this year, OnwardMobility said 2021 was a challenging year and that it remains committed to launching a phone in 2022.
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The announcement was titled "Contrary to popular belief, we are not dead." Yet, contrary to OnwardMobility's new promises, reports suggest the project has hit a dead end. CrackBerry Founder Kevin Michaluk, citing insider sources, wrote in a forum post that plans to make a BlackBerry phone are no longer in the works. AndroidPolice separately reported that the project was no longer moving forward at OnwardMobility. If there was any doubt, BlackBerry's announcement added more fuel to those rumors. At the end of January this year, BlackBerry announced that it was selling its legacy patents to Delaware-based Catapult IP Innovations. "BlackBerry will receive a license back to the patents being sold, which relate primarily to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking," the company wrote.
As to why the plans of a new BlackBerry phone were nixed, one of them was reportedly the supply chain woes, likely catalyzed by the pandemic and the industry-wide semiconductor shortage. However, another key reason behind the project's death was "BlackBerry CEO John Chen's change of heart around putting its brand on yet another smartphone," per Android Police. The latter reportedly led to the termination of licensing deal between BlackBerry and OnwardMobility. With an expired license and sale of mobile-related patent assets to Catapult, the prospects of seeing a BlackBerry phone again are next to nil.
On the other hand, BlackBerry is busy catering to its enterprise clients and providing them with cybersecurity solutions. But the question is whether a BlackBerry phone would have survived the white-hot competition in 2022? Apple and Samsung have somewhat of a duopoly in the premium, while Chinese brands are fiercely competing in the budget segment with terrific value-for-money smartphones. The current market dynamics are cutthroat, and legacy brands aren't doing exceptionally well. LG has already shuttered its smartphone business, while Sony's phones struggle to leave a mark beyond die-hard fans. So, it is probably a sane move that the BlackBerry brand doesn't face the same fate and excel at the domain that it was once renowned for — digital security solutions.
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Sources: Kevin Michaluk / CrackBerry Forum, Android Police, BlackBerryShareTweetEmailWindfall Ending Explained (In Detail) Related Topics About The AuthorNadeem Sarwar (664 Articles Published)
Nadeem has been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Pocketnow in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, he also has experience testing out the latest phones and laptops.When he's not writing, you can find him failing at Doom eternal.