On Jan 4, 2022, BlackBerry officially discontinued its support for its software, including BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS and any earlier versions. Older Blackberries can no longer make phone calls, send text messages, use data or use the internet. BlackBerry has fallen so far from its once-dominant hold on the phone market. 

An assortment of Blackberry phone models from the past 20 years. Photo Credit: Wojciech30 / Wikimedia Commons

BlackBerry, originally known as Research In Motion, produced its first device in 1999. The BlackBerry 850 was not a phone but was a two-way pager. It had a thumb keyboard and a thumbwheel for scrolling. BlackBerry’s first phone was the BlackBerry 6710, which launched in 2002. It still did not have color, but it included features like wireless email, phone, internet and text messaging. In 2003, BlackBerry launched the 7290, which was the first BlackBerry to have color and Bluetooth while keeping the features of the BlackBerry 6710. However, one of BlackBerry’s most popular units was the BlackBerry Bold, released in 2009. At the time, it had the best BlackBerry keyboard, a high-resolution screen and a sleek and sophisticated design. The high resolution was a large part of the success because it could display videos that ordinary consumers could view; the company was reaching out to a larger audience than just its business appeal. 

These phones were high quality and unique in design, but what set them apart from competitors was their email functionality. BlackBerry provided wireless, secure email on the go, which was a huge innovation for the business world. They pioneered mobile messaging, which also appealed to regular consumers. They loved the BlackBerry Messenger service and became addicted to being connected. At BlackBerry’s peak in 2009, they had 43% of the US smartphone market, 20% of the global market and sold more than 52.3 million units that year. 

BlackBerry’s novel messaging app was quickly incorporated into other phones, however. The special feature that BlackBerry once had was now commonplace among other phones, and BlackBerry lacked the innovation of other growing phone companies. The fall of BlackBerry started in 2010 when the iPhone 4 was released. For the first time, iPhone sales surpassed BlackBerry sales, and they have stayed that way ever since. In 2012, only three years after their peak in 2009, BlackBerry had less than 5% of the global market share. BlackBerry continued releasing phones, but none of them had the success of their previous models. In 2016, CEO of BlackBerry John Chen announced that they would no longer produce any hardware and would instead develop software and cybersecurity. BlackBerry’s downfall was mainly caused by the lack of innovation and creativity from previous models. 

BlackBerry still had an extremely successful time in the phone market. “We thank our many loyal customers and partners over the years,” said the company after announcing the discontinuation of BlackBerry OS. 

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