24. January 2022

BlackBerry, smartphone pioneer, finally hangs up on its classic devices


The period of the classic BlackBerry cellphone could have ended a while in the past, however any stragglers nonetheless holding on to their Bold or Curve or Passport shall be compelled to place it down for good this week.

As initially introduced in 2020, BlackBerry will finish help for its pre-Android devices on January 4 US time, which means the 2014 BlackBerry Classic and all older telephones will lose the flexibility to make calls, ship or obtain messages, or entry the web, even on Wi-Fi. It’s the ultimate nail within the coffin for machines that have been as soon as hailed as the peak of cellular productiveness.

Old BlackBerry phones, such as this Bold 9700, will cease to work this week.

Old BlackBerry telephones, equivalent to this Bold 9700, will stop to work this week.Credit:Bloomberg

Research in Motion, the corporate that might ultimately be renamed BlackBerry, launched its first machine in 1996. It and the primary few BlackBerry devices have been basically two-way pagers, permitting customers within the US to message one another. By 2002 the BlackBerry had an built-in cell phone, 2G knowledge capabilities and Java-powered software program to let customers ship emails and entry a primary model of the online whereas on the go. This was 5 years earlier than the primary iPhone, and it represented a serious shift in the way in which individuals may work when away from their computer systems.

The giant rectangular devices with full keyboards turned a standing image, in addition to a portent of our phone-addicted future. Users’ tendencies to spend all their time checking emails, sending messages and updating web sites gave rise to the pejorative nickname “Crackberry”, and in 2003 Time Magazine listed the BlackBerry Quark among the many 100 biggest devices of all time.

Though their fame for sturdy safety meant the devices turned common with companies and authorities businesses, by 2008 BlackBerry was aggressively advertising to shoppers eager to take the web with them wherever they went. This period noticed common fashions together with the Curve, Bold and Storm, which have been embraced by public figures from Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian.

Five years before the iPhone was released, BlackBerries were revolutionary.

Five years earlier than the iPhone was launched, BlackBerries have been revolutionary.Credit:Rob Homer

Use of BlackBerry telephones peaked in 2012, when in accordance with the corporate there have been round 80 million subscribers worldwide. But this was principally as a result of rising tide; 80 million in 2012 was simply 5 per cent of the worldwide smartphone market, whereas BlackBerry had loved a 20 per cent slice in 2009.

Significant developments within the iOS and Android ecosystems (the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 have been additionally launched in 2012), mixed with the rising recognition of smartphones for private use in addition to enterprise was making it robust for BlackBerry to maintain up. By 2016 it reported solely 20 million customers, a tiny market share, and introduced it could cease producing its personal {hardware}.

The most important factor holding BlackBerry again was the identical factor that made it so iconic; the bodily keyboard. Smartphones have been turning into a brand new type of common pc that might entry any internet web page, play video games and present movies, whereas the classic BlackBerry kind issue meant it was nonetheless greatest at duties that required getting into textual content. Experiments with full touchscreen BlackBerries such because the Z30, and new codecs such because the Passport, solely served to indicate how behind the corporate was by way of embracing an app ecosystem.

There have been a number of makes an attempt to reinvent the model as a contemporary smartphone, some with and a few with out {hardware} keyboards, however none have caught on. These Android-powered devices, together with the Priv and Keyone, will proceed to work after this week.

As for these nonetheless clinging to their outdated BlackBerries, it’s finally time to search for a alternative. As BlackBerry — which is now an organization centered purely on enterprise safety — famous in its reminder assertion this week, the sundown for these devices has been a very long time coming.


In reality even when the corporate needed to maintain supporting the devices, many are sufficiently old that the wi-fi indicators they relied on are being retired or changed. Several fashions of BlackBerry, for instance, used 2100MHz 3G networks, which some Australian telcos have already decommissioned, with the remaining 3G infrastructure to vanish within the coming years. When that occurs many cult retro telephones, together with Microsoft Lumias and early Samsung Galaxies, shall be decreased to boxy paperweights even when their batteries are someway nonetheless going.

But as outdated BlackBerries finally change off for good, their legacy is with us each day. By permitting individuals to ship emails and achieve a variety of labor duties regardless of the place they have been, BlackBerry kicked off the technological blurring of private time and workplace time that as of late — with each machine able to connecting you to your colleagues and everybody else — is virtually full.

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