By Laju Iren
THERE was a time in Nigeria when the Blackberry was the smartest of smart phones. It was not just a phone, but a status symbol, one that marked the rich and famous. Telecommunications companies jumped on the BB wagon, providing the best deals in form of specialized services for this select market which began to grow in leaps and bounds. The Blackberry is still a symbol today; a symbol of the changing times in the dynamic world of technology.
No one knows this more than telecoms companies. MTN Nigeria for example, will end its Blackberry service today. In a text message to affected subscribers, the telecoms giant said: “Dear customer, MTN Blackberry service will be decommissioned on 27/01/2017. Please upgrade to a smartphone and enjoy 100 per cent bonus on any data bundle purchased.”
Blackberry’s changing fortunes come as no surprise. Despite several attempts by the Canadian company, Blackberry failed to reverse a trend of falling revenues since 2010, when the company was at its peak. In mid 2016, it announced that it would no longer be manufacturing phones. “The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to our partners,” said John Chen, chief executive and executive chairman of Blackberry. “We are focusing on software development, including security and applications.”
WhatsApp was the first to jump ship, announcing in early 2016 that it would stop support for certain operating systems including BlackBerry’s BB10 OS. That date has been extended to middle of 2017.
It would seem that Nigerian Telcos followed suit, with Etisalat leading the pack. In December 2016, it messaged subscribers thus: “Dear Customer, our BB service will no longer be available. You will continue to enjoy your current subscription till it expires. Thank you for choosing Etisalat.”
Glo’s message seemed more lenient: Dear Customer, starting December 17, 2016 BlackBerry services on your device (BBOS7 devices) will no longer be available. You can still continue to use the device to Call and Text. We request you to migrate to a BB10, Android, Windows or IOS handset to use your remaining data.”