Blackberry Phones Shut Down After Developer Stopped Supporting Devices

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Courtesy of Enrique Dans (Flickr CC0)

Blackberry phones everywhere stopped working on Jan. 4, 2022. This is because the phone’s developer has stopped supporting many of its devices with old operating systems.

Phones with BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS, and earlier no longer function as of Tuesday. Only Blackberry phones running on Android software will be able to use data and send text messages. The old phones can not even dial 911 and will not be able to call people or surf the web. The latest version of the phone’s operating system was released in 2013. The company first announced its intention to pull the plug on these phones back in Sept. 2020. Instead, it plans to shift its focus to its security software operations. It is currently developing security services for governments and other corporations, rebranding itself as BlackBerry Limited.

Loss of Significance In The Phone Market

Courtesy of H.B. Kang (Flickr CC0)

The company gained relevance back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its old cell phones were popularly called “CrackBerries,” known for having physical keyboards. Part of the appeal was giving people some of the functionality of a desktop computer while on the go. The phone became an established accessory for people on Wall Street, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian made it a status symbol. In addition, it was former President Barack Obama’s phone of choice due to its reputation as a secure device. In its heyday, up to 80 million people had a Blackberry device.

Steve Jobs and his touch screen phone provided stiff competition when showcased in 2007. However, the iPhone became the go-to smartphone of the 2010s. Blackberry tried to compete by dabbling into touch screens and models with a slide-out keyboard but ultimately could not stop the rise of Apple inc.’s iPhone. The company’s last phones lacked the tactile keyboard that differentiated itself from its competitors, the main feature that initially enticed users.

The Future of Blackberry

The company began to slowly back out of the phone industry. It has been out of the business for the most part since 2016, occasionally licensing the brand to phone manufacturers like TCL. A texas-based security startup called OnwardMobility is one of those companies using the license to develop a 5G Blackberry device. The company switched to using Android technology and bundled it with its security software while also finding success in selling automotive software. The mobile phone patents held by the company are also being sold to an unknown buyer. Its messenger app will still be running while it plans to close down hosted email addresses and its remote lock and wipe service.

Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


CNN Business: Classic BlackBerry phones stop working today; by Samantha Murphy Kelly
ZDNet: End of a smartphone era as BlackBerry phones reach the end of the line; by Liam Tung

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Enrique Dans’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of H.B. Kang’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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