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BlackBerry phones are officially dead

BlackBerry has finally pulled the plug on its classic business-focused phones, making old-school BlackBerry phones effectively unusable.

Towards the end of December, the pioneering smartphone company announced its plans to switch off all of the services supporting its BlackBerry OS devices. Now, on January 4, that day of reckoning has arrived.

From today, anyone using a BlackBerry device running any variant of BlackBerry OS (including the tablet-based BlackBerry PlayBook OS) will be unable to make or receive calls, send texts, use Wi-Fi, or access mobile data. While they haven’t exactly been bricked, they’re now functionally useless.

In a related blog post, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen announced that “As of today, BlackBerry has decommissioned the infrastructure and services used by our legacy software and phone operating systems which are over 20 years old now”.

It’s been a long, slow death for the initial dominant force in the fledgling smartphone industry. Following years of iPhone and Android-induced decline, and a last-gasp attempt at relevancy with the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv, Chen announced in 2016 that the company had transitioned to being a software security company.

From this point on, the company stopped making BlackBerry devices altogether. It did, however, license the BlackBerry brand out, with the likes of the BlackBerry Key2 (pictured) built by TCL and running on Google’s Android OS – albeit with a healthy smattering of BlackBerry’s famously secure software layered on top.

These late-era Android-powered devices will be unaffected by today’s big switch-off.

It’s not all doom and gloom for die-hard BlackBerry fans, however. Referencing his company’s current prominent position in the “intelligent security” software field, Chen said that the “Chances are, we are more a part of your life today than we ever were as a handset company, though you may not even realize it.”

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