Blackberry’s smartphone will never die

In August 2021, according to OnwardMobility’s official homepage, it announced that the company reached the agreements with BlackBerry (NYSE: BB; TSX:BB) and FIH Mobile Limited (HKG: 2038), which is a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, to deliver a new 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with physical keyboard, in the first half of 2021 in North America and Europe.

Who is Blackberry?

BlackBerry (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments across the globe. The company secures more than 500 million endpoints including 175 million cars on the road today. The head office is located in Waterloo, Ontario, and the company leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to deliver innovative solutions that covers cybersecurity, safety and data privacy solutions. In fact, the company is a leader in the areas of endpoint security management, encryption, and embedded systems. BlackBerry’s vision is clear: To secure a connected future you can trust.

Who is OnwardMobility?

Based on the same official homepage (, OnwardMobility is an innovative home of future BlackBerry 5G smartphones. Chief Executive Officer is Peter Franklin and he has more than 15 year experience in reconstructing technology companies, including working on key initiatives with Microsoft and Zynga.

OnwardMobility is dedicated to producing the most productive, user-friendly and secure mobile devices for all businesses, from government to enterprise. In the connected society, security shapes every process involved in the development, design, supply chain sourcing and manufacture of all OnwardMobility devices. The team is comprised of industry experts and serial entrepreneurs with deep mobile, government and enterprise expertise.

Ups and downs in Blackberry’s history

When we hear the name of “Blackberry”, what will come to your mind? In some business schools, Blackberry is one of business cases. What will students learn from the case of Blackberry? It might be how a company would be after when it lost the competition or did not be innovated. It is true that Blackberry is one of the most prominent smartphone brands in the world, specializing in secure communications and mobile productivity, and well known for the keyboards on most of its devices. At its peak in September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. However, BlackBerry lost its dominant position in the market due to the success of its rival operating systems such as the Android and iOS. In fact, the number was fallen to 23 million in 2016.

The company’s failure does not necessarily mean its end. When it comes to Blackberry, it tried to revive through a collaboration with a Chinese company, TCL Communication, and it became the global licensee of the brand, under the name “BlackBerry Mobile”. The Chinese company’s challenge seemed end in 2020 and OnwardMobility became a new partner for Blackberry.

Security and productivity are key words for a new product

There is still uncertain that Texas-based startup, OnwardMobility, will be able to help Blackberry’s brand regain, but the business environment was changed drastically in 2020. First, remote working is more popular now so that productivity becomes more important. Some people actually feel that physical keyboard makes us to type easier and faster. Many people cannot imagine our life without smartphones. The number of smartphone shipment was about 173 million in 2009 and about 1300 million in 2014, respectively. Therefore, these numbers verify the fact that smartphone’s penetration rate was increasing rapidly. Second, in the connected era, cyber security becomes more crucial than before. One of Blackberry’s strengths and its expertise are its security system. Thus, business environment becomes favorable conditions for the company.

As we see the other article about the smartphone market, winning the game becomes more difficult compared to a decade ago. Even though it is really tough, a smartphone with physical keyboard might be new standard at the same time.