For legions of executives, journalists and politicians – even the leader of the free world – they were once essential devices for staying connected when normal cell phones weren’t enough. Everything else was for amateurs.
The devices with the quirky-sounding BlackBerry name and the QWERTY keyboard that got a lot of people to type with their thumbs were more ubiquitous than iPhones in the late 2000s.
But starting Tuesday, Blackberry models that use the company’s operating systems will take the route of the Commodore computer and LaserDisc. Just like their characteristic trackballs and letter keys in tic tac size.
As part of a End of Life Decommissioning Program Originally announced in 2020, BlackBerry said it would stop supporting the devices as of Jan. 4, 2022 as the Canadian company completes its year-long transition from manufacturing cell phones to a software-based business model.
For some, the deadline marks a wistful conclusion to an era before touchscreens, Apple Pay, and TikTok, when BlackBerries dominated offices, airport lounges, and the west wing.
President Barack Obama famously clung to his BlackBerry after taking office, prompting the White House to dismantle it for security reasons.
Kevin Michaluk, the founder of Crispberry, a website and forum devoted to the once-popular devices, raved about the rise and fall of technology on Monday. In 2016, BlackBerry abandoned making phones, Devices defined by the company previously called Research in Motion.
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“The initial sadness for me has been lived several times,” said Mr. Michaluk, who uses the nickname CrackBerry Kevin. “To use my real name, people don’t know who the hell I am.”
Mr Michaluk, 41, who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said that BlackBerry devices with model names like Curve, Bold, Storm, and Pearl improved productivity without all of the distractions that come with iPhones.
“It feels like they’re causing ADD in most of us instead of increasing productivity right now,” he said of iPhones. “We have moved from analog telephones to a pendulum swinging too far. You can’t really do anything about that because you are constantly bombarded by overstimulation. “
In a message posted on its website on December 22, BlackBerry reminded users that devices running older services over cellular networks or Wi-Fi would no longer be able to receive or send text messages or other data make a phone call or call 911.
The company, which thanked its users for their many years of loyalty, initially did not comment on Monday.
On its website, the company noted that Android-powered models such as the BlackBerry KEY2, which was partnered by Chinese manufacturer TCL, Late 2020would not be affected by the change.
That could relieve Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in “And Just Like That”, the reboot of “Sex and the City” uses a BlackBerry KEY2.
Few people became synonymous with BlackBerry like Mr. Obama, whose addiction – um, addiction – to his mobile device was a mystery when he was elected president in 2008.
Writes in his 2020 memoir “A promised land”, Mr. Obama recalls, “My team threw my bill when it came to freedom: I was able to keep my BlackBerry – or rather, I got a new, specially modified device that was only approved after several weeks of negotiations with various cybersecurity personnel. “
Mr Obama said he could only send or receive email from a list of about 20 verified contacts on his BlackBerry, with the headphone jack and microphone removed and not working as a phone.
“Michelle joked that my BlackBerry was like one of those game phones that are given to toddlers,” he said, “where they can push buttons and make sounds and things light up, but actually nothing happens.”
Adam Matlock, 37, who runs Tech Odyssey, a technology review channel on YouTube, said Monday that it had received many messages from BlackBerry users expressing concerns about being unable to use the devices.
“You have held on to it for so long because there is no replacement,” he said. “I always felt like the BlackBerries, they were special because they had a keyboard and they weren’t trying to be just another phone with a touchscreen.”
Even if BlackBerry didn’t shut down its older devices, Matlock said, they would be virtually impossible to operate if major wireless operators like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile phased out 3G technology in the next few years.
“I find it unfortunate that they are discontinuing support for this,” he said. “I understand the decision because the platform itself is pretty out of date at this point.”
Mr. Matlock, who lives in Houston, keeps some of his vintage devices in his office, as he said, like the BlackBerry 7100g.
“You always felt special to me,” he said.
Mr Michaluk or Crackberry Kevin said his favorite model was the BlackBerry Bold 9000 because it had leather on the back.
“I have a small shelf with a little stand that it leans against,” he said. “Let’s call it a tasteful shrine.”
One of the first models he owned was the BlackBerry 8700, which featured a jog wheel on the side that users could use to scroll through menus and messages.
“It was a small tank,” he said. “You could throw this thing across the room like a baseball and it would keep working.”
Mr. Michaluk is now using an iPhone.
“I am okay with that now,” he said.
William Lamb Reporting contributed.