End of a smartphone era as BlackBerry phones reach the end of the line

BlackBerry phones running BlackBerry 7.1 and BlackBerry 10 will cease to function reliably from January 4, 2022.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

BlackBerry is shutting down its services for BlackBerry 7.1 and BlackBerry 10 handsets as of today, 4 January, the company has reminded its remaining users. 

Though not unexpected, the end of BlackBerry software and services for these devices marks the end of an era in smartphones. The shutdown means the likely small group of people who still use these BlackBerry devices won't be able to access data, make phone calls or send SMS. BlackBerry Link, BlackBerry Desktop Manager, and BlackBerry Blend will have limited functionality after the date. 

By 2012, five years after the iPhone arrived, BlackBerry's double-digit marketshare had slid to low single-digits, leaving it to battle out third place with Nokia and Microsoft's now defunct Windows Phone OS. A year later, Microsoft acquired Nokia and its Windows Phone Lumia line had eclipsed BlackBerry's marketshare of just 2.9% of worldwide smartphone shipments.

See also: Got Windows and an Android handset? Microsoft just updated its Your Phone app.

Still, in 2012, BlackBerry did ship as many as 11 million handsets per quarter. But even with the relatively successful launch of the BlackBerry 10 Z10, the brand didn't transition well into a smartphone world.

In 2015, BlackBerry launched its first Android smartphone, the Priv, which played to BlackBerry's legacy in security and featured its famous keyboard beneath a sliding touchscreen. BlackBerry then launched the cheaper DTEK50 Android after slashing the price of the Priv.        

BlackBerry, under CEO John Chen, announced in 2016 that it was shutting down its internal hardware development to focus purely on software, services and cybersecurity. 

BlackBerry in 2017 promised to provide at least two years more support for BlackBerry 10 devices. It notes that it extended its service until January 4, 2022 as an "expression of thanks" to remaining customers. 

Today's shutdown affects BlackBerry's Enhanced Sim Based Licensing (ESBL) / Identity Based Licensing (IBL), BlackBerry hosted email addresses, BlackBerry Link, BlackBerry Desktop Manager, BlackBerry Blend, and its remote lock and wipe service, BlackBerry Protect.

The BlackBerry Messenger app for enterprise and consumers will continue to function after the cut off date on Android and iOS devices. 

Today, BlackBerry focuses solely on enterprise cybersecurity products and in September Chen said it had reached a sale price for its mobile patent portfolio

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