Legacy BlackBerry devices will stop working starting January 4, 2022
Even a decade ago, Beyonce was photographed holding the BlackBerry Bold P’9981, which was designed by Porsche. Here we are in 2022, when BlackBerry is ending support for its legacy devices starting January 4. It means that phones running BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry 7.1 software or earlier will “no longer reliably function” on carrier networks or over Wi-Fi. In simpler words, phones will no longer be able to use data, make phone calls or send text messages… or make emergency calls.
After “dying” many deaths, this move will give old BlackBerry devices the status of paperweight. The phones we are talking about are old BlackBerry devices but these were the good ones, the best. BlackBerry 10, the last version of mobile OS released by RIM, came out in 2013. And RIM discontinued its BlackBerry line in 2016 and shifted its focus to security software under the name BlackBerry Limited. BlackBerry devices running Android will continue to work but the number of people using such a device is a drop in the ocean.
In 2016, Chinese manufacturer TCL got the license for the BlackBerry Mobile brand and released the BlackBerry KeyOne and BlackBerry Key2. These used Android. And then in 2020, TCL stopped making BlackBerry phones and said it would extend support to devices until August 2022. Next, Texas-based security start-up OnwardMobility picked up the BlackBerry Mobile brand (but hasn’t shared any updates on its website since January 2021).
The decline of the brand has been torturous since its dominant era in the late 2000s, when its QWERTY keyboards, besides the security aspect, gave it a 50 per cent market share in the US. The mobile communications business, in fact, was upended with the arrival of the iPhone in 2007, which allowed Steve Jobs to get everyone screen-tapping and making access to the Internet easier than ever before.
When Barack Obama became the US President, he had to fight a small fight to cling on to his BlackBerry. It was the device that allowed him to keep in touch with friends and advisers. And at one point he said in an interview: “They’re going to pry it out of my hands.”
After the BlackBerry started falling out of favour, it even tried bringing its hugely popular BBM messaging service to Android and the iOS in 2013. In a press statement the company had said: “Why are we doing this now? It’s a statement of confidence.” It was a little too late and WhatsApp was already doing brisk business while Apple had its own iMessage app.