OnwardMobility shuts down and ends the 5G BlackBerry dream

(Image credit: BlackBerry)

The rumors were true. OnwardMobility's silence was a sign of much deeper problems and now the company that revived the BlackBerry hardware name has shut its doors and ended its plans for delivering a 5G BlackBerry device.

The company announced the news on its website  on Tuesday:

"...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 OnwardMobility team adds that "this wasn't the outcome we worked and hoped for."

Analysis: OnwardMobility's BlackBerry plans died on the vine

The disappointing BlackBerry news comes almost two years after the Texas-based company purchased the BlackBerry brand name and announced plans to build a secure, 5G BlackBerry device. More importantly, they promised to include a signature physical keyboard. There are, in our estimation, essentially zero 5G phones with physical QWERTY keyboards.

OnwardMobility's demise may mark the true end of the BlackBerry brand across phones and services. Earlier this year, BlackBerry (the Canadian company), sold off most of its key patents. After that, they shut down the BlackBerry OS service that supported original BlackBerry phones (before the Android versions, which were built by yet a different partner).

It's a sad end to a storied history as one of the most useful and forward-leaning mobile brands in history. Sure, Blackberry was caught flat-footed when the original iPhone came along in 2007. However, up until that moment, BlackBerry phones were the most important mobile brand in business and for consumers. Hard to believe that owning BlackBerry phone in 2005 was a considered status symbol.

By the time BlackBerry arrived on Android in 2015, it and the physical keyboard that still adorned some devices was seen as something of a curiosity.

Now, the brand name will fade into our collective memory of a time when we were so addicted to our BlackBerry phones that we called them "CrackBerries".

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.