BlackBerry’s big decision marks the end of an era

The end of an era for the iconic gadget that propelled work into the mobile age.

The maker of the once-dominant BlackBerry has dropped support for the device, signaling the end of an era for the groundbreaking smartphone that propelled work into the mobile age. BlackBerry was popular among professionals in the mid to late 2000s, because of its built-in keyboard and the once-iconic BBM instant messenger. One of its most notable users was former US President Barack Obama and even Beyonce.

Handsets using its in-house software will no longer be anticipated to perform reliably after Tuesday, January 4. BlackBerry’s trademark smartphone in the 1990s came to symbolize working on the go.

The decision, which was initially announced in 2020, effectively ends a line-up that is still popular in some areas of the world for its dependability and security. BlackBerry devices were previously the go-to mobile device for professionals reading email and younger people conversing on the company’s proprietary platform, thanks to their physical keyboards. During the previous decade, the company’s attractiveness eroded as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and a wave of Android devices with larger displays, sharper graphics, and more app options took over the market.

“These devices will lack the ability to receive over the air provisioning updates and as such, this functionality will no longer be expected to reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS, and 9-1-1 functionality,” the company wrote. “Applications will also have limited functionality.” BlackBerry phones running BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry 7.1 software, as well as prior versions, would “no longer reliably function” on carrier networks or via Wi-Fi. Phones will no longer be able to access data, make phone calls, send text messages, or make emergency calls, to put it another way.

In 2016, the Canadian firm transitioned to a software-only business, licensing its name and services to TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd., which continued to release smartphones until the arrangement expired in 2020. TCL devices ran on Alphabet Inc.’s Android operating system and will be supported until August. The development of BlackBerry phones was outsourced in 2016.

The firm, which has recorded yearly revenues of about $1 billion and continues to employ thousands of people, is now concentrating on cybersecurity and software.