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Yesterday BlackBerry officially announced they will be outsourcing all handset design, development, and production to third parties, effectively closing their own hardware business.

We will still see new releases of BlackBerry-branded phones running BlackBerry software, but they will not be produced in-house at BlackBerry.

This came as no surprise to those of us who have been paying close attention to the company over the past few years.

Having just made the decision to switch back to a BlackBerry 10 device from an iPhone, it still hit me pretty hard hearing this officially announced in yesterday’s earnings announcements. Today I expect to receive the new BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition I just ordered and I was actually thinking about sending it back unopened at one point yesterday.
But as the day wore on and I had a chance to process the news, I realize nothing has changed. BB10 development ceased long ago native app development never really caught on (with the exception of a handful of loyal developers), and it’s been over a year since the last BB10 device was released (the Passport SE was announced in August 2015). The future of BB10 today is the same as it was yesterday. BlackBerry just confirmed it’s no longer making phones.

It’s likely BlackBerry intends to just let BB10 quietly fade away after a couple more planned security updates. But unless they come right out and announce End-of-Life plans for BB10, the small spark of hope I have that BlackBerry will license their last mobile OS to third party OEMs or have their OEM partners produce a new BB10 handset sometime in the future remains alive.

A couple of things I saw today kept that spark alive among the torrential downpour of “BlackBerry no longer makes BlackBerrys” coverage amongst various news outlets and tech blogs.

First, I saw a video of BlackBerry CEO John Chen talking briefly about BlackBerry’s device heritage and future.

He said his favorite BlackBerrys were the Curve, Bold 9900, and especially the Passport. He said he still uses his Passport today along with a PRIV. He also said that more BlackBerry phones with keyboards are coming and that phones are still iconic and important to the BlackBerry brand. The fact that Chen still loves his passport gives me a little hope that BB10 may survive into the future in some form or fashion.

Second, BlackBerry mentioned in social media and in a comment on its own blog that BB10 version 10.3.3 was still in the pipeline awaiting official NIAP certification.

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capture2If BlackBerry intended to just kill off BB10 why would they even bother mentioning it and reassuring their loyal BB10 users that they remain committed to the platform? And you can’t tell me it’s just to push remaining inventory because nobody is buying it at this point except the loyalists.

I still believe there are some core government, financial sector, and other high-security clients that want and use BB10 devices. It’s the only reason I can think of that they would even releasing a new version of the OS and pursuing NIAP certification for it.

Now that BlackBerry has divested itself of the costs of in-house handset development isn’t it at least feasible that they could keep supporting BB10 and releasing a new device every 1-2 years through their OEM partners?

Regardless of what lies ahead, I know this much. I’ve used an iPhone SE for the past month. I actually enjoyed the experience quite a bit. But in spite of all it had to offer in the way of apps, media, hardware, and features, I found myself missing BB10. It’s the same story with Android and Windows, too. Each platform has its unique strengths and great features, but I always come back to a BlackBerry.

I missed the superlative tactile feedback and accuracy that only a BlackBerry physical keyboard can provide me. I missed being able to launch apps and use shortcuts with that keyboard. I missed being able to effortlessly toggle between 3+ apps via Active Frames. I missed having all my important communications, notifications, alerts, and upcoming calendar items easily accessible via the Hub – and I missed being able to peek at unread Hub items without ever leaving an app. And I missed that trademark blinking LED notification light!

I look forward to getting my hands on a Passport Silver Edition. Much like the Bold 9900/9930 represents the pinnacle of the BBOS era, the Passport SE represents the pinnacle of BB10 era. It is the last “pure” BlackBerry phone and will be a prized piece of my gadget collection for years to come. I intend to use it to its fullest extent and flaunt it wherever I go.

What kind of phone is that, you ask? It’s a BlackBerry. A BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition. It was made by the company that defined the smartphone market before Apple redefined it. No, they don’t make these anymore, but that’s what makes them so special. You know you want one.

Author Dallin Crump

Full-time Clark Kent, part-time Superman. A self-described "geek" with a knack for writing and a passion for all technology, especially if it is produced by BlackBerry. BBM Channel: C003C2D50

More posts by Dallin Crump
  • paulo

    Passport best phone blackberry 10 love it for is unique and complet system

  • krisen

    Agreed, I traded up from a passport to a passport SE. What a difference and I kinda wished I had done so sooner. The keyboard and back is such a lovely refinement and I really like the better signal quality I get.

  • Bryan

    For me BB 10 is the best. In fact based on what I see some of the features in our current BB 10 are being discovered and copied by Android and iOS. I’ve looked at the latest version of iOS on my wife’s and daughters phone and they are having problems with them. No system is perfect however, it seems that no matter how many upgrades Android and iOS get they still have the same problems.

    As far as apps, look I was able to install Google play on my AT&T passport via Colbalt with no problems so as far as the app gap it’s really not an issue. Plus the fact that BB 10 is the most secure phone out there even, J. Chen admits that Blackberry can’t guarantee security on the Priv or other Blackberry Android phones as much as they can on it’s own BB 10 os.

  • Great article and it’s great to see and read of others that feel exactly like me. I have enjoyed several BB’s over the years including my first 8703e (in my collection) to my current Classic and even my PlayBook, which still has life and gets used periodically, and will continue to support whatever reiteration comes along only if it has my beloved Qwerty keyboard.

  • Tris

    I’ve read this article a few times now and one thing is for sure. I’m glad I have my SE. OK so I miss a few apps but I have ways around them. Missing a few features in apps doesn’t even come close to how much I enjoy the day to day use of my SE. Yes it is all turning to Android and James if you read this, as much as I know you love BB10 you have to admit, you talk far more about Androberry now then bb10. Everytime I try to leave BlackBerry behind I find myself going back. I’ve had samsungs,iphones,privs…. you name it. I still come back to my SE. Truth is its like a welcoming hug that you know will keep you safe. Sounds silly but that how I feel about it. I hope we see another qwerty bb10 device to update the government and such….. even if it is made by a third party. I will take a serious look at the mercury when it turns up. But for now I will happily stick with my SE and my iPhone will remain my 2nd device.

  • PaulD

    Nicely written, I have 2 Passport SE’s, they will last a few years until something comes along that matches it, nothing out yet.
    We can always get an iphone 7 with lots of bugs and no headphone jack or a sammy FireNote unit, hmmm choices choices !
    Ok I might have to scoop up another Passport SE on shopBB great prices, will buy the Mercury, if BB releases it instead of sitting on John Chen’s desk!
    BB10 for me is the best mobile platform on the market, altho it would be nice to have the Mercury even if it does have android.

    All the best.

  • Simply said, I love BlackBerry 10! BlackBerry 10 forever!

  • Vince Kong

    Great article! My sentiments exactly. I became a Blackberry fan around the time, when iPhone/Android were just starting to grow and Palm (pre HP acquisition) was its decline. So, I do still feel proud and fortunate to own/use not just one or two but several of the most powerful, multi-tasking, communication devices. I always felt Blackberry’s hardware design were ahead of the curve and its time. They were innovative and utilitarian , which didn’t have to resort to gimmicks to make a selling point. It was hard to explain to non-Blackberry fans that I didn’t need their condolences or pity. But this article explains that Blackberry has a chance to come out even stronger than before. Tired or reading all the negative and ignorant comments about the media spin that “it’s the end of a era” and an obituary by late night talk show hosts. So, I wanted to express how thankful I was to come across this article that conveys those feelings of why you still won’t see me using any other devices other than an Blackberry.

    • Dallin Crump

      We may be few in number, but we know what we want! I’m just glad I can still get my hands on these iconic BlackBerry devices.

  • Doms

    Am ordering a SE now. This article just made me sure enough I am making the right choice. Phones are not fancy things to satisfy ego,

    • Dallin Crump

      I have my Passport SE in-hand and I don’t regret my purchase one bit. It’s just awesome.

  • igor k

    I’m in the same boat. Tried the priv and still miss the bb10 experience.. back to the passport!

    • Dallin Crump

      Welcome back!

  • Good article, thanks for putting it together. I know a lot of people in professional politics who would throw down a full $1,500 for Passport and $1000 for a Classic so the profit margin is higher on a smaller production batch. I would probably make room in my budget for a $1k Classic. I think they would have to be Android devices though, but at such a high profit margin they could offer an BB10 option. I like BB10 on my Classic, but I would chose Android….I’m like Marshawn Lynch: “I’m just about that physical keyboard action boss”.
    On the other hand, part of me is jealous of all the cool, non-explosive battery features that Samsung has added to the Galaxy like the Gear-VR and I just want Blackberry to license their physical keyboard design patents so Samsung can improve on their Galaxy S7 keyboard cover. http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/mobile-accessories/phones/samsung-galaxy-s7-keyboard-cover-black-ej-cg930ubegus/

    • Dallin Crump

      Thanks! I enjoyed writing it. And I feel totally vindicated now that I have my Passport SE in-hand. It’s the most uniquely brilliant smartphone I have ever seen or used.