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Last hope for new BlackBerry extinguished, physical keyboard and all

The last hope for a BlackBerry-branded phone has been extinguished, with OnwardMobility confirming the shutdown of its already-delayed plans to release a phone with a physical keyboard.

In a statement on its website on Monday (via Android Central), the company says plans for a 5G Blackberry phone, designed to continue that fabled Research In Motion focus on security, have now run aground. That officially ends hopes of the BlackBerry name rejoining the best Android phone ranks, probably forever.

The company said: “We want to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support that you have given us since we first launched OnwardMobility. However, it is with great sadness that we announce that OnwardMobility will be shutting down, and we will no longer be proceeding with the development of an ultra-secure 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,” the Texas-based company added.

OnwardMobility failed to state why it has cancelled the product. However, earlier reporting from Android Police said the software-focused arm of BlackBerry had nixed the license it had granted to OnwardMobility out of a desire to “distance itself” from the smartphone hardware business.

BlackBerry is currently doing a decent trade in providing security software for governments and big players in the corporate world and has no desire to return to its roots as a smartphone vendor.

The news comes after the shutdown of all phones running the BlackBerry OS in early January. As of January 4, anyone using a BlackBerry device running any variant of BlackBerry OS (including the tablet-based BlackBerry PlayBook OS) is no longer able make or receive calls, send texts, use Wi-Fi, or access mobile data. While they haven’t exactly been bricked, they’re now functionally useless.

In a related blog post, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen announced at the time that: “As of today, BlackBerry has decommissioned the infrastructure and services used by our legacy software and phone operating systems which are over 20 years old now”.

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