BlackBerry recently announced it was shutting down the legacy services that allowed phones running BlackBerry OS to make calls, send and receive text messages, and more. But that shutdown would only affect older phones running BlackBerry’s operating systems and not newer BlackBerry-branded phones running Android.

But the company has been slowly pulling the plug on some of the Android apps that were unique to phones with the BlackBerry name. Several key apps already reached end of life in 2019, and the rest will no longer be supported after August 31, 2022.

BlackBerry Launcher and DTEK security apps for Android

As spotted by CrackBerry forum member John Albert, BlackBerry’s Software Support Lifecycle website notes that the following Android apps will reach end of life at the end of August, 2022:

Note that reaching end of life doesn’t necessarily mean the apps won’t be available anymore – you can still find some apps that have already been marked as EOL in the Google Play Store, including Productivity Tab, Battery Center, Notable, and Device Search. But since these apps are no longer supported or updated, and some can only be run on BlackBerry-branded phones, it’s unlikely that BlackBerry’s EOL apps come pre-installed on any upcoming phones.

So even if Onward Mobility or another company does bring a new BlackBerry-branded phone to market in the future, it will likely be BlackBerry in name only and not in software. That said, maybe it’s not the software that’s important these days, so much as Onward Mobility’s promise to deliver a phone with a physical keyboard, something that’s increasingly uncommon in the modern smartphone space.

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  1. Not directly related with this topic but I am just curious about.
    Why don’t many known companies that leaving their software products, open source them instead? Just like an “intellectual property” donation to the public.

    1. In this case, that would mean releasing the server software and all the documentation for setting it up, and they’d be responsible for making the documentation understandable when they might not even know what they did to set it up for themselves. Then, they’d have to build a way to change the server people want to use into their client applications on people’s phones.
      Morally, that would be superior, but it would mean people using Blackberry’s servers less, which means less data gets mined and thus it wouldn’t have been as profitable according to speculative investors. If the server software is proprietary, it can be presumed to be datamining anyway and many people with the skill to set it up will be scared away from it. Then there has to be an incentive for someone to set up servers, which, until the default servers shut down, basically isn’t going to exist without some social engineering.
      Blackberry might actually have been able to keep their services going if it had in fact distributed server software to the public which also “mined BlackBerrium” which was “totally going to be worth lots of money some day the more people join in” and you’d “totally be able to exchange for stuff someday somehow”. I fear that a lot of companies are going to end up going this route for server infrastructure as time goes on, and I fear it mostly because it’s extremely difficult to justify both getting into and staying out of that stuff to yourself and anyone you might talk to about it.

    2. @Techno Zapastista,

      Often times commercial software suites use various other proprietary software used under contractually agreed upon license terms. What we think of as “BlackBerry Product X” might actually consist of code that BlackBerry wrote and products created by several other vendors. If BlackBerry releases the wrong code they could be sued for a lot of money. In addition they may not want everyone to know which proprietary software they are using “under the hood” (that information could give a competitor a competitive advantage).

      When it comes to changing the license of a commercial product you have to be very careful that you only relicense code that you control. Depending upon how well you kept your work isolated this could be simple or very complicated. If it’s complicated why invest money in separating your code from the rest of the code?

      Also, from management’s perspective there’s a non-zero risk that one of your engineers copy/pasted from open source code without telling anyone. Revealing your source code could expose that your company was improperly using FOSS software. Why expose yourself to the legal risk?

      P.S. I agree that it would be nice to open source your when you discontinue a product, but every engineer-hour or lawyer-hour spent preparing code to be open sourced is an engineer-hour or lawyer-hour not spent making money.