BlackBerry is finally sharing plans for its legacy software and services. The BlackBerry World app store is going away on December 31, 2019; the BlackBerry Travel site is shutting down in February 2018; and the Playbook video calling service will die in March 2018. The company is otherwise promising “at least two full years of additional support for BB10” and “at least two full years of BlackBerry network access for BBOS devices.”
The future of BlackBerry OS, the latest version of which is BlackBerry 10 (or BB10, for short), has been in question ever since rumors started about BlackBerry adopting Android. Now that we’ve seen quite a few BlackBerry devices powered by Android, and now that BlackBerry is no longer a phone company, the Canadian firm is finally starting to cut back.
It’s taken BlackBerry an excruciatingly long time to get here. The last BBOS devices were manufactured in 2015.
Even earlier this year, Alex Thurber, head of BlackBerry’s mobility solutions unit, wasn’t willing to divulge information about the fate of BBOS:
That’s right: BlackBerry still employs engineers focused on BlackBerry 10 — the latest 10.3.3 update came out in December 2016. Thurber wouldn’t definitively say there will be no more BlackBerry OS devices, nor would he commit to a future BlackBerry 10 phone. In other words, it’s technically still possible, assuming there’s enough demand from customers.
With each passing day, it’s less and less likely we’ll see a new BlackBerry 10 phone. Now that the app store is going away at the end of 2019, there will be a lot of pressure on BlackBerry to end support for the operating system as well. The only thing that could extend it further would be a significant number of customers demanding that BlackBerry keep patching BBOS.
BlackBerry did say today that “there are still millions of people actively using BB10 and BBOS devices, many of which are already more than 10 years old.” Its solution? A trade-up program that gives these customers “a significant discount and incentive to upgrade your current BlackBerry device to a new BlackBerry KeyOne or Motion, both of which are the world’s most secure Android smartphones.”
Details of the program are unknown, a stark reminder of just how slowly BlackBerry still operates. To make matters worse, BlackBerry ended BlackBerry Priv monthly updates today after two years, meaning the company is doing a better job supporting BBOS than its Android devices.