Onward Mobility, the company aiming to bring a 5G BlackBerry to market, confirmed reports its project to develop and launch a keyboard-toting handset had been abandoned, with the business closing.

In a short statement on its website addressed to partners, supporters and followers the start-up said it would be shutting down having given up development of a security-focused 5G 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.”

No further information was given on the reasons for its closure, though reports earlier this month claimed the company had lost its licence to produce a BlackBerry-branded device.

Onward Mobility launched under a burst of publicity in 2020 when it took over the BlackBerry licence.

In an interview with Mobile World Live at the time, CEO Peter Franklin (pictured) said the start-up planned to bring the “most North American phone out there” to market, with a focus on security.

This was at a time of continued tensions between the US and Chinese mobile companies.

However, Onward Mobility was increasingly quiet on progress as the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic progressed.

It released an update early this year claiming the project was alive and kicking but delayed, citing challenging conditions in 2021.