by Al Sacco

BlackBerry (finally) says it’s done making smartphones

News Analysis
Sep 28, 2016
MobileMobile Device ManagementMobile Security

This week BlackBerry announced it has produced its last smartphone, though the company plans to partner with other hardware makers and continue to sell BlackBerry-branded phones.

BlackBerry today filed its fiscal second quarter 2017 financials, and with the earnings came definitive news that the Canadian company, which very much sparked the modern smartphone market, will cease developing and making its own smartphone hardware.

The news feels like it has been a long time coming, but is still momentous given the role BlackBerry once played in the mobile device world — and the long, slow fall from its heyday in the late 2000s. 

From BlackBerry’s latest earnings report:

“Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia. Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital.”

Last April, BlackBerry’s chief executive John Chen said the company would stop making phones that ran its own BlackBerry 10 OS but would continue to make Android phones, with the goal of becoming “the most secure Android smartphone for the enterprise.” Then in July, the company announced it would stop making the last phone with BlackBerry’s iconic “full QWERTY” physical keyboard.

The last phone the company released, the BlackBerry DTEK50, was aimed at the mid-range consumer who values privacy, as well as enterprises looking for security-focused and affordable devices. Images of that phone’s successor, DTEK60, recently made their way around the web, so it won’t likely be too long until that phone sees the light of day. 

BlackBerry’s chief did not say it will stop selling phones. In fact, he suggested future partnerships with hardware makers would yield additional BlackBerry devices. Blackberry also says it will continue to focus on its various security and management services for enterprises.

But the days of BlackBerry smartphones made by the Canadian company are over.