Classic BlackBerry devices to stop working January 4: NPR

Thorsten Heins, then CEO of BlackBerry, presented the BlackBerry Z10 on January 30, 2013 in New York.

Mark Lennihan / AP


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Mark Lennihan / AP


Thorsten Heins, then CEO of BlackBerry, presented the BlackBerry Z10 on January 30, 2013 in New York.

Mark Lennihan / AP

That old BlackBerry buried in the bottom drawer with loose batteries and forgotten chargers won’t work as of Tuesday.

The company behind the once ubiquitous devices customers recalled that on January 4, it will stop running legacy services for its BlackBerry 7.1 operating system and earlier BlackBerry 10 software, as well as its Playbook OS 2.1 and earlier versions. This means that devices using this old software will no longer work reliably, including for data, text messaging and phone calls, including to 911, BlackBerry said.

This is a long overdue change.

BlackBerry has announced that the end of its old devices is near in 2020, as the company last released a new version of its operating system in 2013. In 2016, the company switched to security software under the BlackBerry Limited name.

For some, it may represent the end of an era.

Owning a BlackBerry was once considered a status symbol among politicians, business leaders and everyday users. Customers largely ditched the device and its full external keyboard and small display (by today’s standard) once smartphones entered the scene.

The sleeker iPhone was launched in 2007, and BlackBerry struggled to compete as consumers searched the device that could easily download music, videos and maps. In its first three months, Apple sold over a million iPhones. In response, BlackBerry has attempted to develop products similar to other smartphones – some with touch screens, others with sliding keyboards – but they have all struggled to convince consumers.