Classic BlackBerry phones to stop working on January 4

By Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN Business

Soon you won’t be able to use that old BlackBerry phone that is somewhere in the back of your drawer.

Starting Tuesday, January 4, the company will stop supporting its classic devices running BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS and earlier. This means that all of its old devices not running on Android software will no longer be able to use data, send text messages, access the internet or make calls, even to 911.

As most mobile users have switched from BlackBerry – the latest version of its operating system launched in 2013 – the decision to discontinue support for its phones represents the end of what was once thought to be technology. point.

The company originally announced the news in September 2020 as part of its efforts to focus on providing security software and services to businesses and governments around the world under the BlackBerry Limited name.

BlackBerry has largely been out of the phone business since 2016, but over the years it has continued to license its mark to phone makers, including TCL and more recently OnwardMobility, an Austin-based security startup. Texas, for a 5G Blackberry device running Android. Software. (BlackBerry Android devices are not affected by termination of service.)

The old-fashioned BlackBerry cellphones with physical keyboards from the late 1990s and early 2000s were once so popular that people called them “CrackBerries”. The keyboard appealed to professionals who wanted the flexibility of working outside the office with some of the tools they used on a desktop computer.

The devices have become a status symbol and accessory to Wall Street residents, celebrities like Kim Kardashian and even President Barack Obama, in part thanks to his high reputation for security. At its peak in 2012, BlackBerry had over 80 million active users.

The company debuted in 1996 as Research In Motion with what it called two-way pagers. Its first gadget, the “Inter @ ctive Pager”, allowed customers to respond to pages with a physical keyboard, a kind of hybrid text messaging / email. Three years later, RIM introduced the BlackBerry name with the BlackBerry 850.

Eventually, BlackBerry phones came with support for email, apps, web browsing, and BBM, an encrypted text messaging platform that predated WhatsApp and survived long after BlackBerry was overtaken by rivals.

But Apple’s touchscreen revolution with the iPhone in 2007 brought up missing BlackBerry offerings. He tried touch screens and sliding keyboard models, with little success. He developed a few phones without a physical keyboard, but these lacked BlackBerry’s key differentiator: its tactile keyboard.

BlackBerry eventually ditched its own software, embracing Android and layering its security software. It has had some success in business security software and automotive software.

Although TCL stopped making devices bearing the BlackBerry name in 2020, some fans are awaiting the arrival of OnwardMobility’s BlackBerry 5G device, which was originally slated to launch in 2021. Despite the delay, its website still features a banner saying “coming 2021. “

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Dave Goldman of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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