The long, lonesome death of the classic BlackBerry brand hits another milestone tomorrow, as the company finally will end access to legacy services. Users still hanging onto devices running BlackBerry OS 7.1 and BlackBerry 10 will lose substantial functionality on Tuesday, January 4. The list includes -- but is not limited to -- key features like data, phone calls, SMS and 911 access. So, you know, the stuff you do with a phone.
As the company notes, this move is a long time coming. BlackBerry ditched its in-house hardware way back in 2016, farming out the brand to companies like TCL (which called it quits in 2020). The company announced the January 4 shutdown all the way back in 2020, so, you can’t accuse BlackBerry of not offering significant transition time. The statement notes:
As another milestone in the BlackBerry journey, we will be taking steps to decommission the legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, with an end of life or termination date of 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 9-1-1 functionality. We have chosen to extend our service until then as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers.
There are, of course, plenty of options out there -- though OnwardMobility, which promised a 5G BlackBerry-branded device, is currently still MIA, in spite of promising an announcement in 2021. There’s always the OSOM device, which sports its own Canadian pedigree. Though, again, that privacy-focused product won’t be announced until Mobile World Congress at the end of next month.
In the meantime, let’s have a moment to remember the days when the BlackBerry ruled the mobile roost, as the choice of world leaders, entertainment figures and normal folks, alike. In the world of hardware, however, nothing gold can stay -- physical keyboards included. RIP BB classic. It's been real.