It’s finish. If you try to boot your aging Blackberry smartphone today, it won’t work the way it always did in the past. BlackBerry, formerly known as RIM, is sticking to its announced 2020 timeline to shut down services for BlackBerry OS, marking the end of an era of mobile technology.
BlackBerry was once the king of “smartphones” back when Apple was redefining what people expected from a mobile device. The company’s superb physical keyboards, messaging and connectivity were all considered the gold standard, but BlackBerry was also bloated and slow to change. He mocked the iPhone as a toy, but a year later he released one of many touchscreen phones called the Storm. It missed the point, completely failing to compete with the iPhone, thus beginning BlackBerry’s long slide into smartphone irrelevance.
One of the main issues holding BlackBerry back was the centralized nature of its products. The iPhone had a full web browser and was connected to the same internet as the computers, but BlackBerry pushed everything through a custom server infrastructure. That’s what carriers wanted back then, but Apple changed the game.
Any hope BlackBerry had of salvaging a second place finish was dashed by Google. Android took off in 2009 and 2010 by relying on partnerships with operators, which were once BlackBerry’s daily bread. By the time Blackberry was able to upgrade its software to BBOS 10, it was too late. It tried to make a few of its own Android phones like the Priv, but the project was quickly scrapped.
If you ever see a BlackBerry phone these days, it probably wasn’t built by the company. In 2016, BlackBerry signed an agreement with TCL to manufacture Android phones under the BlackBerry name. We’ve had several, like the passable KEYone and KEY2, but the partnership ended in 2020. Today, Blackberry is focused on enterprise products and services, and understandably, they don’t want to continue supporting smartphones from more than ten years ago.
According to BlackBerry, all remaining legacy BBOS devices “will no longer be expected to operate reliably” starting today. They’ve lost the ability to receive provisioning updates, which means no more data, phone calls, texts, or even 911 functionality. Apps will also have limited capabilities. This applies to devices connecting via carrier networks or Wi-Fi. If you have a classic BlackBerry, it’s no longer a phone, it’s a paperweight.