BlackBerry ends support for all its classic phones

BlackBerry, what’s left of it, has announced that the legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, will no longer be available after January 4, 2022. 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.

iPhone roadkill.

cellphones before and after Apple iPhone

John Timmer for Ars Technica:

It may seem difficult to imagine if you weren’t using cell phones at the time, but BlackBerry once dominated the smartphone market. Its keyboard-based hardware was widely adopted in corporate settings, in part because the services it provided typically ran through BlackBerry servers, allowing for high levels of security and control. An indication of its importance is that early internal builds of Android looked like a cheap BlackBerry knockoff, rather than the cheap iPhone knockoff that was eventually released.

Google Android before and after Apple's iPhone

BlackBerry’s leadership was blindsided by the iPhone’s popularity. It dismissed on-screen keyboards, and counted on its stranglehold on corporate services to maintain its market. It took over a year after the iPhone’s release for the company to come out with its own touch screen phone, and its software remained an awkward mix of old and new for some time after…

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, memories:

“RIM has already been dealt a world of hurt with Apple’s iPhone, and Apple wasn’t even really trying with the first go around (few countries, mostly exclusive carriers, ignoring the enterprise, no SDK, no Exchange support, etc.). Those days are soon to be over for RIM. RIM is already bleeding share to Apple’s iPhone; now they’re about to start hemorrhaging. Let the bloodbath begin.” – MacDailyNews, May 12, 2008

BlackBerry eventually gave up on its own phones, and started releasing Android versions before exiting the hardware business entirely (it now primarily provides corporate security services). The last version of the BlackBerry OS it released dates back to 2013, so the devices affected here are now extremely old.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, in fact, now amateur hour really is over.

BlackBerry Amateur Hour

We never forget.

By the way, for a very fun read, we recommend the book/audiobook: Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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  1. I had occasion to deal with some RIM employees on unrelated matters. They were not bashful about yakking about stock options and so on. Somewhat annoyingly boastful. Considering the original Blackberry was just a two way text pager, in essence!
    Sic transit gloria mundi! And many other sayings about pride and hubris

  2. Their worst one was probably the post-iPhone model that had a larger screen with on-screen keyboard. The “innovation” was the entire screen moving (clicking down) with each key (or button) press for that tactile sensation. It meant a seam around entire screen and difficulty typing fast (because entire screen had to click for each virtual key press).

  3. Michael Dell dealt a doozie with his “give the $$ back to the shareholders” foot-in-mouth plant, but it was just one big doozie.

    The real meaty doozies were from Blackberry as 3-levels spouted Apple nonsense over the years and they’re the voices that need excoriation.

    When seeing the iPh release in ’07, BB leadership was apparently amazed at a browser on a phone and the complex UI. Mike Lazaridis, the founder and vice chairman of BlackBerry at the time, reportedly wondered when seeing the iPh demo, “How did they do that?”

    But, CEO Balsillie, responded with, “It’s OK—we’ll be fine,” Apparently, they comforted themselves with, “it’s not secure, battery life is poor and the keyboard is clumsy.”

    The following BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, said the iPhone had a problem; “The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.” (Worthy context at that time; BB/RIM sells fewer phones in a year than Apple sells in a quarter).

    Finally, those voices of Great Hubris are silenced…in-spite of many years of unfounded shots across the bow that, BB is the clear winner of the Many Idiotic Statements Award.

    “Cameraphones will be rejected by corporate users.” – Mike Lazaridis, 2003

    “The most exciting mobile trend is full Qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up.”-Mike Lazaridis, May 2008

    With the release of their BlackBerry PlayBook in 2010, they predicted it would mean iPad’s “death on arrival.”

    As I remember (couldn’t find), Balsillie offered up a warning to Apple in the form of; “the phone is complex…we know what we are doing.” Ahem, Jim.

  4. I actually do miss when there was a decent amount of iPhone competitors. At one point, there were 4 mobile OSes fighting for the top spot: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. As much as I like iPhone, I still would like to see new phone OSes compete with each other. And Happy New Years to everyone here as well.

  5. Excellent article on how bad it was at BB—despite their public hubris, they knew they were screwed.

    “In the summer of 2007, however, Lazaridis cracked open a phone that gave him pause. “They’ve put a Mac in this thing,” he marvelled after peering inside one of the new iPhones. Ever since Apple’s phone went on sale in June, critics and consumers were effusive about the sleek phone’s playful touch screen, elegant graphics, and high-resolution images. Lazaridis saw much more. This was no ordinary smartphone. It was a small mobile Apple computer whose operating system used 700 megabytes of memory – more than twenty-two times the computing power of the BlackBerry. The iPhone had a full Safari browser that traveled everywhere on the Internet. With AT&T’s backing, he could see, Apple was changing the direction of the industry.”

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