BlackBerry pulled the plug on its classic mobile devices, veritable artifacts of early 2000s culture, marking the end of an era for the tech company.
Starting on January 4, smartphones operating on BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 stopped performing basic functions including calling and text messaging. Newer BlackBerry devices that run on Android remain functional.
BlackBerry's first model, the 850, launched in 1999. With it, the company spawned an entirely new breed of handheld gadget, one that featured its very own instant messaging service (remember BBM?), e-mail functionality, and a complete QWERTY keyboard that put T9 texting to shame.
Alongside the T-Mobile Sidekick and LG Chocolate, the BlackBerry quickly became a dominant mobile device of the early to mid-2000s, photographed in the clutches of celebs including Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Pharrell, Rihanna, and Beyonce.
In 2016, BlackBerry stopped designing its own phones and began licensing its name to partners, specifically TCL Communication under the name "BlackBerry Mobile."
The duo ended their partnership in 2020 and the same year, news surfaced that a company called OnwardMobility had bought the license to produce the first 5G BlackBerry phone.
OnwardMobility's website still advertises "BlackBerry 5G Smartphones COMING 2021." So, in short, the future of the new-and-improved BlackBerry remains unclear.
Interestingly, the demise of the OG device comes as all things Y2K — an era set to the click-clack of BlackBerry keyboards — resurge in popularity, largely among Gen Z'ers longing for the low-fi feel of the early aughts.
Though the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl are officially things of the past, it's not entirely farfetched to think that today's TikTok-happy teens could find some way to bring them back en vogue.
I can see it now: 2022, the year bricked BlackBerrys became Gen Z's most sought-after accessory.