BlackBerry revival is officially dead as OnwardMobility shuts down

A Blackberry Bold 9900 4G smartphone for sale at T-Mobile store
(Image credit: Getty Images)

OnwardMobility, the company that promised to launch a 5G-enabled BlackBerry by 2021, has closed down, ending yet another attempt to resurrect the once-famed brand.

The Texas-based firm was working on an Android-based BlackBerry device, complete with classic physical keyboard, for release in the US and Europe.

BlackBerry phones haven't been made by the company itself since 2016 due to poor sales. Instead, the company offers the brand name under a license, and all handsets released since have so far come from the Chinese firm TCL communications.

OnwardMobility picked up the license in 2020 but was unable to bring a product to market.

"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," the company's statement reads.

Onward picked up the BlackBerry torch in August 2020, and at the time promised to release a "secure, 5G-enabled device" in 2021. However, the year came and went and the only BlackBerry news was an announcement on 4 January that older devices running the 7.1 OS and earlier would no longer be supported with updates.

In the days following that announcement, there was a barrage of social media posts and messages directed at OnwardMobility, with BlackBerry fans apparently upset that the firm had missed its self-set deadline without explanation.


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On 7 January the firm addressed the issue with a statement claiming it was "not dead". It said that 2021 had been a "truly challenging year to launch a new phone", especially with the "high expectations" it had set for itself. The statement also appeared to suggest that a device had been built, but was held back by shipping difficulties.

Just over a month later, however, the company have posted a new statement to its website announcing that it is shutting down and, as a result, will no longer be releasing a 5G-enabled BlackBerry with a keyboard. The reasons why are still unclear, with OnwardMobility unreachable for comment at the time of writing.

"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," its statement continued.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.