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Blackberry Is Dead (Something Everyone Knew But Me)

I held on to the bitter end.

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I’m around five years late in writing this, but I’ve held on — held on to my Blackberry smartphones. Why? Three reasons:

I like the physical keyboards.

I like the operating system (BB10).

I like it when I whip it out people are like what the fuck is that?

They were good phones that were made to work rather than play. Everything about their native operating system was to streamline the work process: emails, texts, and social all in one feed; the ability to quickly swipe back and forth between apps; the security defenses; the ease of typing on a physical keyboard. These phones were once the main component of a journalist’s arsenal …

But the trendy appeal of the iPhone and Android devices whittled away Blackberry’s share of users and Blackberry very quickly went from being the badge of the mobile, in-demand hustler to something used by those who refused to evolve.

The death of the Blackberry was slow. We could all see it coming but maintained some glimmer of hope that our hero would swoop down and save it. That hero never came.

A few years ago Blackberry saw the writing on the wall and terminated their native operating system, BB10, which was probably the best operating system yet created. They would instead use Android, which is awful.

Then they stopped making their own phones, contracting out to some Chinese company.

Then the Blackberry-centric Crackberry.com, which was once the trendiest site in the mobile universe, stopped updating.

Then Blackberry stopped producing phones altogether.

Then in March AT&T terminated their 3G service in the US, which meant my Blackberry Key2 (their most recent phone) could no longer make or receive calls.

Suddenly, one day my phone no longer worked as a phone. Nobody could call me and I couldn’t call them. But that wasn’t enough to make me stop using it. I actually came to like this lack of functionality … I never really liked the idea of people being able to call me whenever they want … and for the next two months I continued using a phone that wasn’t.

I probably would have continued on like that indefinitely.

Then my wife stepped in and said enough. That’s stupid, she said, I need to call you sometimes, and then bought me a real phone. I now use an iPhone 13 Pro … like a real person.

It was a good move, and not just for the obvious reasons. It turns out that TCL, the Chinese company that made the Blackberry Key2 never — not once — issued a software update. So the phone that I used for years just ran the version of Android that it came with — a major security issue for a phone that was marketed as being the most secure there is.

Basically, Blackberry users were cast off to sea without even a life raft, our loyalty the sinkers that pulled us down into the abyss.

I’m making this post because my love for Blackberry devices is well known on this blog, and often much to the chagrin of the readers here. Today, I say, you all won. I lost.

That said, laptops, phones, and cameras are just tools — you use them for a while and then move on. There is no reason to get attached to any of it.

But I do remember my excitement when I got my first Blackberry … a Tour with a global data plan … and felt the power of being able to blog from anywhere in the world whenever I wanted to. I remember how cool I thought it was that I could blog from a moving car. That was in 2009, a time when the other options were laughably bleak: internet cafes, hunting for bad wifi, using Alphasmarts … technologically speaking, those days sucked, but for some reason I miss them.

Filed under: Technology

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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  • Jack October 7, 2022, 3:21 pm

    It’s really sad that BlackBerry was made to go to pot like it has. I had one back in the day but go back to 2010 and you HAD to have a monthly service for the device that was in addition to your normal bill and you could only get it through a wireless provider. It was ridiculous. I had one and wanted to use just on Wi-Fi and it was a no go and yeah there were work around but they defeated the purpose of the device and only halfway worked. Blackberry tried to control their devices in a way made people choose other options…like me…I went to Android. Before they pivoted to be more open, they had already lost. Once you are on the downward slope, products usually don’t recover.

    I use Apple now because it works and they work wherever I go….which ain’t very much these days.

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    • VBJ October 11, 2022, 8:40 am

      It’s kind of a sad corporate story. They thought they were the king of the hill and could do whatever they wanted, and they chose short term profits at the expense of pissing off their customers. I don’t think they expected their enterprise clients to jump ship so quickly… and then they tried to justify their failures by being like “We’re not a hardware company anyway.” They offered something that was unique and wanted / still wanted but they just couldn’t keep it together on the administrative side. So now we all have to use iPhones.

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