BlackBerry shuts off legacy smartphone services, signalling end of an era

4 Jan 2022

Image: © junpinzon/

Once a heavyweight in smartphones, BlackBerry started pulling out of the market in 2016.

Classic BlackBerry phones will stop working from today (4 January) as the company switches off support for its legacy software and services.

In a statement updated on 22 December, the company warned users that “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 911 functionality.”

The company’s announcement was initially published in September 2020.

With a physical keyboard and BBM instant messaging, the classic BlackBerry devices gained a strong position in the smartphone market in the late noughties.

However, the iPhone’s launch in 2007 saw Apple gradually surpass players such as Nokia and BlackBerry, and the Canadian company’s QWERTY keypads fell out of fashion as touchscreen smartphones increased in popularity.

Attempts at releasing newer smartphones including the Z10 and Q10 in 2013 were not enough to resurrect BlackBerry’s phone business. The company stepped away from the smartphone market in 2016, saying it would outsource hardware development and no longer manufacture its own phones.

In 2019, the once popular BBM consumer messaging service was shut down due to a lack of users. Three years prior, BlackBerry moved its BBM server to Indonesia when it partnered with Indonesian tech company Emtek. The partnership was short-lived, with Emtek blaming the popularity of other messaging services for BBM’s decline in users.

Now, BlackBerry provides cybersecurity services to governments and enterprises around the world. Its transition to a software company was overseen by CEO John Chen.

Last April, the company’s senior vice-president at its technology labs, Sarah Tatsis, spoke to about the importance of security and why it needs to be factored in at the product development stage.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic