Even as Apple’s iPhone and a galaxy of Google Android smartphones swallowed up the mobile market over the past decade, a group of diehard users continued to cling to the iconic BlackBerry device. Many of them loved the physical QWERTY keyboard, as well as the software’s focus on productivity.
Those people are going to have to let go.
BlackBerry will stop manufacturing the BlackBerry Classic. “It has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations,” the company wrote in a corporate blog posting. “But, the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market.” The company will continue to update the BlackBerry 10 operating system, so any last holdouts can keep using their hardware until it falls apart or BlackBerry goes out of business, whichever comes first.
Over the past few years, various tech publications have written lengthy post-mortems about BlackBerry, dissecting how the Canadian firm let its lead in the smartphone market slip away so completely. Many concluded that BlackBerry had chosen to focus on the wrong things: while Apple and Google poured their efforts into touch-screen devices and sizable app ecosystems, senior management at BlackBerry kept insisting that customers really wanted longer-lasting batteries and physical keyboards.
BlackBerry tried to take the iPhone head-on with the Storm, its first touch-screen device, but that effort turned out to be a confused failure. It also failed to build a device that ignited consumer interest in the same way as smartphones running iOS and Android. When business users—traditionally BlackBerry’s strongest customer segment—began substituting their BlackBerry phones for rival offerings, the company’s business model imploded.
For those few holdouts who continue to love their classic BlackBerry devices—and you know who you are, because you’re probably screaming something about relinquishing your phone only when they pry it from your cold, dead fingers—the end seems nigh.