If you are one of the 200,000 people who still use a BlackBerry, it’s time to upgrade: The once ubiquitous smartphone has finally met its end.
Starting Tuesday, BlackBerry will end its legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, as well as BlackBerry 10 software. Devices running these services and software through a mobile carrier or over Wi-Fi will no longer function reliably, ending services such as data, phone calls, texting and emergency calling — essentially, everything that makes a phone a phone.
So long, tiny keyboard buttons. Farewell, little scroller ball. You will be missed.
“I used to file entire stories on [the BlackBerry], which was every bit as painful as it sounds (and the copy desk justifiably hated the results) but it got the job done. RIP King,” one former BlackBerry user lamented.
Shutting down BlackBerry’s functionality lays the classic mobile phone to rest after several years of winding down. In 2016, the Canadian company stopped manufacturing the phones altogether. In 2017, BlackBerry announced its commitment to providing “at least two years” of support and network service for the phones. Finally, the company announced what it called “end of life” services in September 2020.
The year the company stopped making new mobile devices, BlackBerry began shifting its focus to enterprise software and cybersecurity. It placed its first bet on this market with its $1.4 billion acquisition of Cylance, a software company developing antivirus programs, which closed in early 2019. Now, BlackBerry is working toward its new tagline: “Intelligent security. Everywhere.”
But the iconic BlackBerry mobile phone brand that launched the company into being a household name in the aughts withered away to nothing in recent years. At its peak, BlackBerry controlled 50% of the U.S. smartphone market and 20% of the global market, selling more than 50 million units in 2011. But as Apple and Android smartphones began to dominate, sales dwindled, with sales dropping to less than 208,000 in the last quarter of 2016, making its smartphone market share 0%.
The death of the BlackBerry was caused, simply, by its failure to keep up. Though the company had released a few phones with touch-screen capabilities, the company’s bread and butter was the physical keyboard, which quickly became obsolete with the rise of the modern smartphone. Apple iPhones took up 47% of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2021, while Samsung phones came in second at 34%.
If you’re a die-hard BlackBerry brand loyalist, hang in there. Something may be on the way: OnwardMobility announced in 2020 that it was working on a BlackBerry-branded 5G smartphone, though missing its famous keyboard. But the company has yet to deliver on this promise, which it originally aimed to debut in 2021.
May we always remember BBM, one of the first instant messaging platforms on a mobile device; the excellent keyboard; and the BlackBerry Bold, which had a leather back. Rest in peace, dear BlackBerry. You will be missed.