It’s over. If you try to start up your aging Blackberry smartphone today, it’ll fail to work as it always has in the past. BlackBerry, formerly known as RIM, is sticking with the timeline announced in 2020 to shut off services for BlackBerry OS, marking the end of an era in mobile technology.
BlackBerry was once the king of “smartphones” in the days before Apple redefined 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. It mocked the iPhone as a toy, but a year later it released one of several touchscreen phones called the Storm. It missed the point, utterly failing to compete against the iPhone, thus beginning BlackBerry’s long slide into smartphone irrelevance.
One of the major issues holding BlackBerry back was the centralized nature of its products. The iPhone had a full web browser and connected to the same internet as computers did, but BlackBerry pushed everything through custom server infrastructure. That’s what carriers wanted back then, but Apple changed the game.
Any hope BlackBerry had to salvage a second-place finish was dashed to ribbons by Google. Android took off in 2009 and 2010 by leaning on carrier partnerships, which used to be BlackBerry’s bread and butter. By the time Blackberry was able to modernize its software with 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 canceled.
If you do ever see a BlackBerry phone these days, it probably wasn’t built by the company. In 2016, BlackBerry signed a deal with TCL to manufacture Android phones under the BlackBerry name. We got several of them, like the passable KEYone and KEY2, but the partnership ended in 2020. Today, Blackberry is focused on enterprise products and services, and naturally, it doesn’t want to continue supporting smartphones from more than a decade ago.
According to BlackBerry, any remaining legacy BBOS devices “will no longer be expected to reliably function” starting today. They’ve lost the ability to receive provisioning updates which means no data, phone calls, SMS, or even 911 functionality. Applications will also have limited capabilities. That applies to devices connecting via carrier networks or Wi-Fi. If you’ve got a classic BlackBerry, it’s not a phone anymore — it’s a paperweight.