Nerd Gadgets

RIP to the BlackBerry Classic: Obama’s favorite phone circa 2008

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2016 has been a brutal year when it comes to icons passing. We know all too well the realities and fragility of life, and how our heroes can disappear from the face of the Earth in a moment. It is with that in mind that I bring more unfortunate news on the passing on an American icon – the BlackBerry Classic has officially been discontinued. Killed. Ended. Squashed. Eliminated. Terminated.

For those unaware, BlackBerry, the company that first pioneered the smartphone – one with a keyboard – long before companies like Apple or Samsung got into the smartphone game, was very much a company still in operation. The company had sold over 10 million units in its 17-year run, but sadly, consumers’ tastes seemed to gravitate away from the wonderful world of built-in keyboards and styluses and fell for the sweet and saccharine ad spots from Apple for their iPhones and what not.

The BlackBerry Classic lived an intriguing existence. When it first came out, it was a signifier of business and financial success – if you had one, you were a “boss” – which demanded people take you seriously (pretty crazy to think that anyone could have ever been taken seriously with a BlackBerry). Then there was the narrative of then Senator Barack Obama’s absolute and unequivocal dependency on his BlackBerry throughout the tenure of his campaign. He even maintained his use of the caveman smarthphone well past his inauguration, as well, despite considerable security dangers. Obama’s insistence on using his smartphone turned out to be a valuable asset for BlackBerry, so much so that some marketing experts valued the “celebrity endorsement” to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 and $50 million.

But alas, Obama’s BlackBerry endorsement died once he finished his first term, opting for either an android or an iPhone (his aides never fully publicized which on he chose, because of the decidedly “unfair” marketing advantage a phone company could have. It seems like things started to fall short and decay rather rapidly for BlackBerry following the President’s departure from the smartphone. Hillary Clinton’s famous email scandal was linked back to numerous BlackBerrys in her possession, but seeing as that whole debacle wasn’t really resolved until this past week, it was far too late for BlackBerry to say “See! Its not our fault!” Things continued to spiral though, when it came that the ultra-secure nature of BlackBerry Classic’s messaging services made their smartphone the go-to communication device of drug cartels in North America and the world.

So all that to be said, let’s pour one out for BlackBerry, as they’ve suffered continual losses on their product and model for the past three years now, forcing the company to either sell or shutdown the software portion of their corporation. Seeing as no one seems to have any interest in purchasing smartphones these days, it makes sense as to why BlackBerry would shut the Classic down. It was a good run, BlackBerry, in fact, longer that most people cared to pay attention to, but nevertheless, 2016 takes yet another icon. Let’s just pray the Segway isn’t next.

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.

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