The blackberry brand just won’t die!. The brand has been licensed yet again by a company hoping to use the pre-2010 brand popularity to invoke die-hard fan’s interest once again to the physical keyboard smartphone. A new Texas startup named OnwardMobility has signed licensing deals with RIM after the previous licensing contract for the brand name with TCL expired. The new startup is working on a new 5G BlackBerry device with Android and a physical QWERTY keyboard to be launched in 2021.
Not much is know about the device as of now. The screen size, specs, and phone features are still but silhouettes at this point. OnwardMobility told The Register it would come with a completely new keyboard design that will “reflect the brand values from a keyboard typing experience and input experience.”
OnwardMobility CEO Peter Franklin says the newest Blackberry will be both sleek and secure. The company plans to work closely with BlackBerry and FIH Mobile Limited, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group to put those legendary RIM security features in place.
OnwardMobility’s anticipated perfect customer for this device will enterprise customers, emphasizing the phone’s ability to get work done on the go and its security features. This all makes sense, considering these were the attributes that attracted so many customers to BlackBerry devices in the past.
It also seems the device won’t be flagship standard, but probably a healthy midrange. As OnwardMobility CEO Peter Franklin told The Register: “Top of mind for us is not just making the most secure and productive device, but also being an everyday device. That means things like a top-notch camera, and the other specs you’d expect from your day-to-day phone. Simultaneously, we know that we must be competitive, and so is our pricing.”
The Blackberry brand has seen many turns and twists in its journey has been as a brand. BlackBerry devices were monarchs of the mobile world in the late aughts, but then Android and iOS took off and sales took a nosedive.
There was a reboot of sorts from 2013 onward, when a number of devices running BlackBerry 10 were released (including the fantastically square-shaped BlackBerry Passport, the Blackberry Playbook, RIM’s take on a tablet). Then, in 2015, the company finally switched to Android with the BlackBerry Priv and its slide-out keyboard. In 2016, it stopped making its own phones altogether and licensed the brand to Chinese manufacturer TCL. TCL will lose rights to that brand as of August 31st this year, which apparently cleared the way for OnwardMobility to move in. (A side note: Indian telecoms firm Optiemus Infracom has also made its own BlackBerry-branded Android devices, but they are only available in the Indian market.)
The new phone will be manufactured by FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of manufacturing giant Foxconn. It’ll be available in North America and Europe “in the first half of 2021.”