Blackberry is making a return to North America and Europe in 2021 with a new 5G, Android device that will feature the brand’s iconic keyboard.
Blackberry had previously been purchased by TCL in 2016, but earlier this year the company said it would no longer be making phones under that brand.
The two companies said that “as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices”.
Managing the famous name now is a Texas startup called OnwardMobility. The company is aiming its upcoming device at government and corporate clients, prioritising productivity and security.
“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. This is an incredible opportunity for OnwardMobility to bring next-generation 5G devices to market”, he said.
Speaking to The Register, Franklin said that the company would not be using old Blackberry designs. Instead, it is using a keyboard design created in-house.
“Top of mind for us is not just making the most secure and productive device, but also being an everyday device,” said Franklin. “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.”
Blackberry CEO John Chen said that the company was “thrilled OnwardMobility will deliver a BlackBerry 5G smartphone device with physical keyboard leveraging our high standards of trust and security synonymous with our brand”.
“We are excited that customers will experience the enterprise and government level security and mobile productivity the new BlackBerry 5G smartphone will offer”, he also said.
Blackberry smartphones were squeezed out of the market following their peak in the 2000s due to competition from Google and Apple.
This is partly because the ecosystem changed towards apps, with many developers preferring to develop for Android and iOS, as well as the development of larger, more sophisticated touchscreen smartphones phasing out the need for Blackberry’s keyboards.
In 2016, it announced that it would no longer be making its own smartphones and began outsourcing development to other companies.