Story at a glance

  • BlackBerry’s classic cellphone retires today, the company reminded users Tuesday in a statement.
  • BlackBerry first announced in 2020 that it would decommission its legacy software beginning Jan. 4, meaning classic BlackBerry devices would no longer function beyond that date.
  • BlackBerry phones were once loved by celebrities, business executives, and even world leaders, with former President Obama famously refusing to surrender his BlackBerry once he took office in 2009.

BlackBerry’s iconic cellphone, once a staple for top business executives and a symbol of elite status for stars and socialites in the early 2000s, stops working today.

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BlackBerry announced in a statement late last month that it would decommission the phone’s legacy software beginning Jan. 4, meaning classic BlackBerry devices — outfitted with a QWERTY keypad — will no longer function.

"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," the company said, and thanked its “many loyal customers and partners over the years.”

Newer BlackBerry devices, which run on Android software, will continue to work normally, according to the statement.


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BlackBerry’s chief executive John Chen first announced in 2020 that the company would be decommissioning all legacy services as part of its transition to a software company. The last version of BlackBerry’s operating system was launched in 2013, according to CNN, and BlackBerry has been largely out of the phone business since 2016.

BlackBerry is now a cybersecurity firm, according to the company’s website, and netted around $1 billion in revenue in 2020.

At its peak in 2009, BlackBerry owned 50 percent of the United States's and 20 percent of the global smartphone market, according to a Harvard Business School analysis, but its market share rapidly declined in the 2010s when touchscreen phones were developed.

Once nicknamed “Crackberries” for users’ difficulty putting the devices down, Blackberry phones were among the first to blur the boundaries between home and work, The Washington Post reported.

Former President Obama famously clung to his BlackBerry phone after taking office in early 2009, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian West said they had multiple Blackberrys (Kardashian West finally retired her last Blackberry Bold in 2016, after it broke).


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Published on Jan 04, 2022