Dear friends, we’re gathered here today to mourn the death of that once-beloved monarch of the mobile world: BlackBerry. And, yes, I realize that this is not the first time we’ve announced the death of the company or its devices (and, for reasons I’ll explain below, it likely won’t be the last) but this is a very definite ending for legacy BlackBerry hardware.
As of January 4th, any phones or tablets running BlackBerry’s own software — that’s BlackBerry 7.1 or earlier, BlackBerry 10, or its tablet operating system BlackBerry PlayBook — will “no longer reliably function,” says the company. Whether on Wi-Fi or cellular, there’ll be no guarantee you can make phone calls, send text messages, use data, establish an SMS connection, or even call 9-1-1. That sounds pretty darned dead to us.
This seems ripe for a community of dedicated fans to build custom servers to keep things going – much like exist for many older games.
My view is these companies have a liability and should either cover it themselves or have insurance to cover it, place their patents, designs, and code in escrow if necessary, or provide a simple way of enabling on board functionality.
As for anyone stupid enough to connect themselves to any form of direct or indirect “off switch”, privacy invading “fishing expedition” software, or remote services without standard i.e. plug compatible replacements covered by adequate human rights and consumer protection law…
Drifting off at a tangent:
I cannot disagree with Thurrott’s observations about Microsoft and Windows. The comments are a sight to behold and pretty much match my view and in fact yes I did put my money where my mouth is and completed a shift to Linux within weeks. I had already been trialing it on and off for a few years.
Of particular note is Microsoft gave their “insider” wannabes (the type who imagine themselves as sitting on the cutting edge and being on the inside track and somehow privileged above all other dirty common users) a good life lesson. Like working class Tories who imagine voting for the establishment and big business and billionaire party is enabling their aspirations and they are in the club the reality is they are held in contempt and treated accordingly. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron is reported to have called rank and file members “toilet seats”. I wonder what Microsoft management call Windows “Insiders”.
As for Blackberry I hope someone sues them.
Thanks for this PSA, Thom. It gave me occasion to fire up my 9 working BlackBerrys OS 10 devices to make sure that BlackBerry Protect was disabled. I greatly miss BlackBerry OS 10 still. I occasionally dust off my Passport SE and my son still uses a PlayBook for games every time he’s in my office. (Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds, Need For Speed, no in-app purchases!)
In BB OS 10, BlackBerry perfected what Palm started with WebOS. Thankfully, Apple (and presumably Google) have appropriated many of the better UI concepts that BB OS 10 and WebOS pioneered.
At least in 2022 iOS and iPadOS have good multi-tasking, good universal search, a reasonable file manager, and decent mouse support, All of this was ready to go in 2013 in BlackBerry OS. Heck, my iPhone 11 Pro has inductive charging, just like the Palm Pre in 2009.
The BlackBerry Passport was the best portable device I have owned. It felt like I could do almost anything on it. The Hub was outstanding. I still miss it.
But you can’t go back. The browser, once industry-leading, is barely usable. It is slow. The camera, decent for the vintage, doesn’t hold a candle to what we expect now. Then there’s Apple Music, TV, Office 365, Photos, MFA everywhere, and all of the modern trappings we take for granted.
Time marches on.
I remember a few years ago when there was a BB outage and everyone who had a BB device couldn’t do anything with it, including access the web or make phone calls. I remember wondering, if these devices had phone capability, why on earth were they dependent on a server at BB HQ (possibly in another country) to make them? Isn’t that extremely inefficient, given that the phone and internet systems were local? Other smartphones were available by then, so why had people been buying devices that had this limitation? I could understand that the email or other proprietary services could go down, but making phone and internet dependent on BB’s servers struck me as crazy.