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Goodbye to the iconic Canadian BlackBerry phone

Blackberry once reigned as king of the smartphone

As of January 4th the iconic BlackBerry mobile device will no longer be supported. The company said devices running BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier software, BlackBerry 10 software, and BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function.

A true Canadian tech darling

At one point BlackBerry was a true Canadian tech phenom. The first BlackBerry device, the 850, was introduced in 1999 as a two-way pager in Munich, Germany. The name was chosen due to the resemblance of the keyboard’s buttons to that of the drupelets that compose the blackberry fruit. BlackBerry gained market share in the mobile industry by concentrating on email. BlackBerry began to offer email service on non-BlackBerry devices, such as the Palm Treo, through the proprietary BlackBerry Connect software.

The original BlackBerry device had a monochrome display while newer models installed color displays. On December 17, 2014, the BlackBerry Classic was introduced; it is meant to be more in line with the former Bold series, incorporating navigation buttons similar to the previous BlackBerry OS devices. When it was discontinued in June 2016, it was the last BlackBerry with a keyboard that dominates the front of the phone in the classic style.

BlackBerry controlled 50% of the smartphone market in the US and 20% globally.

When Blackberry reigned as king of the smartphone it was selling more than 50 million units at its peak in 2011. At that point in time, BlackBerry had massive government contracts and big business deals, and those deals in turn spurred more consumer adoption.

The Waterloo based Canadian tech company was originally named Research in Motion and had tens of millions of customers. It started out creating pagers and handsets, but the first iteration of the smartphone, complete with iconic keyboard, took shape within its first 15 years.

The BBM messaging service was a key component of BlackBerry’s success as well because they figured out really early on that people wanted to have an instant connection to people; they want to be able to message back and forth without limits. And being able to BBM also added you to that really exclusive club of BlackBerry-only users.

By 2007, the company was pulling in more than $3 billion in revenue with a net income of $631 million.

When the Apple iPhone arrived it was a full-touch-screen device, and that was a huge leap in innovation at that point for the mobile industry. BlackBerry was still using physical keyboards at that point. It was the beginning of the end for BlackBerry phones.

BlackBerry is now a Security and iOT company

Today BlackBerry says it is focused on “providing intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world.”

This quarter BlackBerry reported that it “delivered solid sequential billings and revenue growth for both the IoT and Cybersecurity businesses, beating expectations for the second consecutive quarter. Blackberry saw a total company revenue of $184 million this quarter with IoT revenue representing $43 million. On the Cybersecurity front revenue of $128 million combined with licensing & Other revenue of $13 million. After the successful final quarter of 2021 the company CEO told investors:

We also beat expectations on earnings, despite the ongoing investment to drive future top line growth. In IoT our QNX business achieved a quarterly record for design-related revenues, performing stronger than expected despite ongoing industry supply chain headwinds. On the Cybersecurity front we saw further traction for our recent unified endpoint security product launches with additional head-to-head wins against other next-gen players.”

John Chen, Executive Chairman & CEO, BlackBerry

Note that BlackBerry Android devices will not be impacted by the End of Life of infrastructure services unless they are receiving redirected email sent to a BlackBerry hosted email address.


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