Let’s call it the end of another era, or something like that. And one that has been in the works for a while now. The once-ubiquitous BlackBerry is now pretty much dead and has gone from the smartphone space and all its erstwhile users have moved on to Android and iPhone devices. And for those still hanging on to their devices, there is some bad news.
The Canadian company has reiterated, as per reports, that BlackBerry devices will “no longer be able to support legacy services over cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity”. Initially announced in September 2021, BlackBerry decided to extend its services for a few months more as “an expression of thanks” to customers and partners. And now, those extra few months are up, and as of January 4, all devices running on “BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, and BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, will no longer be able to ‘reliably function’,” the company said and explained that “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 9-1-1 functionality”.
This update, importantly, does not apply to BlackBerry phones that are based on the Android operating systems.
The note on the BlackBerry website furnishes a bunch of important details to help users whose BlackBerry devices are likely to get affected including how to manage stored data, how to move BlackBerry Password Keeper data, how to shift to a new device, etc.
For all practical purposes, this is the end of an era. BlackBerry started losing ground to Android and iPhone devices in the early 2010s and while the company tried hard to regain its footing in the smartphone space, it hasn’t quite worked out. In 2013 the company brought in BlackBerry 10 OS to replace the older BlackBerry OS to catch up to what Android and Apple was doing but with little success.
In 2015 BlackBerry moved to Android and launched the BlackBerry Priv smartphone, again, without much success. The following year, BlackBerry joined hands with licensing partners TCL Communication (globally) and Optiemus Infracom (in India) to “retain its brand name with third-party devices” and introduced new devices like the BlackBerry KeyOne and BlackBerry Key2.
By February 2020, TCL announced that it would no longer be producing BlackBerry devices and its other brand licensees also went quiet post the launch of the BlackBerry Key2 LE in 2018, which was effectively the last device to be launched under that brand name.
OnwardMobility, a Texas-based startup had teased the launch of a 5G BlackBerry device in 2021, but that didn’t roll out.
For now, it might be an end BlackBerry’s legacy services, but the brand is still alive. It is developing security software and services for governments and enterprises globally and, according to reports, beat “Wall Street estimates for third-quarter revenue last week and reported a net profit of $74 million”. BusinessToday