If anyone there misses the smartphones of BlackBerry (does anyone feel it?), good news: thanks to a new licensing agreement, phones with the brand will return in 2021. They will have Android operating system, 5G support and, to honor tradition, alphanumeric physical keyboard.
The agreement was closed with the OnwardMobility, American startup that will produce the devices in partnership with FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn. This makes it clear that, instead of responding for smartphones, BlackBerry will simply license its brand for those devices.
Not that this type of partnership is new. Since giving up on launching its own cell phones, BlackBerry has licensed its brand to manufacturers drawn by the past that the company had before Android and iPhone dominated the market.
At the end of 2016, TCL Communication bet on this, but, despite all efforts, it was unsuccessful: the company ended the licensing agreement with BlackBerry in early 2020.
If TCL Communication, which is a Chinese giant, failed with the partnership, what guarantees that the unknown OnwardMobility will succeed? Nothing. But the startup is betting on some differentials for the new BlackBerry devices to succeed.
One of them – and perhaps the most important – is the focus on the corporate market. It makes sense if we take into account that BlackBerry has reached its peak precisely for targeting its cell phones to the business segment. The QWERTY keyboard that marked the line had the appeal to facilitate responses to e-mails, for example.
OnwardMobility will again bet on the physical keyboard, but its approach to attracting corporate customers will be based on factors such as enhanced productivity and security.
Then comes 5G. Support for this type of network does not seem to be essential in the business environment, but Peter Franklin, CEO of OnwardMobility, says that he already sees “many corporate experiences being enabled by 5G”.
There is no information about the hardware that the new BlackBerrys will have, but the startup signals that we can expect advanced features. Franklin says that “first-rate camera”, for example, will be present, after all, the focus is on the corporate environment, but personal experience will not be left aside.
The first BlackBerrys from OnwardMobility are scheduled for the first half of 2021 in North America and Europe.