After kickstarting the smartphone era, BlackBerry’s classic devices and services are finally shutting down. No, not the Android-powered modern BlackBerries such as the KeyOne, Key2, and Key2 LE, but anything that ran a BlackBerry-branded operating system. Whether this is a classic QWERTY keyboard powered by BlackBerry 7, or the iPhone-inspired BlackBerry 10, or even the forgotten BlackBerry PlayBook OS — it’s all shutting down this month.
“As another milestone in the BlackBerry journey, we will be taking steps to decommission the legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1, and earlier versions, with an end of life or termination date of January 4, 2022,” the company announced. “As of this date, devices running these legacy services and software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS, and 911 functionality. We have chosen to extend our service until then as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers.”
It’s the end of an era for what was once a distinguished product that defined the market a decade ago. Even predating iMessage, the BlackBerry instant messaging service — BBM — was a great selling point for the product line. As iOS, Android, and WhatsApp began to dominate, BlackBerry devices began to fall by the wayside.
The company tried to rejuvenate its smartphone business by launching its own touchscreen phones and later its own operating system in 2013, but had little success. Unable to keep up,ity stopped the creation of smartphones in 2016 and licensed services to TCL Ltd. between 2016 to 2020. BlackBerry promised to launch a smartphone by the end of 2021 in partnership with OnwardMobility, but that hasn’t panned out.
The company has now shifted its focus to selling software. It briefly had a nostalgia-fueled increase in its share price this year, which later nearly returned to its original price. While the market has been saturated with multiple companies claiming a stake in the smartphone pie, hopefully, BlackBerry manages to return to some form of relevance with its current partnership.
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