US company OnwardMobility announced a deal with BlackBerry to develop and release a 5G handset bearing the famous name for the European and North American market, days before a brand licensing deal with TCL Communication expired.
OnwardMobility, which describes itself as a producer of secure mobile devices targeted at enterprises, also announced an agreement with Foxconn’s FIH Mobile for design and manufacture of the devices.
It plans to launch its 5G BlackBerry in the first half of 2021. The device will run Android and feature a physical keyboard. It will be targeted at providing secure communications for public and private sector organisations, including those in the so-called gig economy.
OnwardMobility is led by Peter Franklin, whose experience is largely in the software and mobile application space including a stint at game developer Zynga working on the popular FarmVille brand.
Discussing the latest venture Franklin said: “Enterprise professionals are eager for secure 5G devices that enable productivity, without sacrificing the user experience. BlackBerry smartphones are known for protecting communications, privacy, and data”.
China-based TCL Communication held the rights to produce devices using the BlackBerry name for four years, but in February announced its arrangement was due to conclude at the end of this month, throwing doubt over the future of the iconic handset brand.
BlackBerry gave-up producing its own handsets in 2016 after a spectacular fall from grace which saw it go from battling for dominance of the devices market to barely shifting 500,000 handsets a quarter by the end.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back