The rise and fall of the BlackBerry dynasty
It’s 2009. Everyone’s wearing layered hair, Disney stars always wear a skirt over jeans, and when you hear the word “TikTok” you immediately think of Kesha (or Ke$ha), not the ‘application. When we think of the 2000s, our minds immediately visualize feather hair extensions and flip phones. However, one particular relic, and in my opinion the most influential, is often overlooked. Back in the days when Meta didn’t control the universe, a sweet time before social media was what it is now, the most popular form of communication was through your little old BlackBerry phone.
BlackBerry, the company that once dominated smartphones and our social lives, recently announced that it will be withdrawing support for its devices. If there are any remaining BlackBerry owners to this day, they will no longer be able to connect to cellular networks. A real end of time.
BlackBerry revolutionized instant messaging with its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, and although business users fell in love with its high levels of security, there must have been deeper reasons why a generation of 12 to 16 year olds were into it. obsessed. Whether it’s the incredible feeling of pressing the keyboard buttons or using the scrolling trackball, their handy pocket size or their colorful rubber cases, we know one thing: it’s definitely not the quality of their camera which made us addicted. The real main appeal of BlackBerry phones for teenagers, like anything else, was that their friends had one. Even as a pre-teen myself, back when everyone was part of the BB craze, I had this constant fear of missing out on joining groups of friends and conversations that weren’t happening. than on the coveted and exclusive BBM, which led me, like many others, to become obsessed with having one.
But as addicted as our little thumbs have become to typing on that mini keyboard, back then there were no hyper-filtered images to lower our self-esteem and no endless, mind-numbing news feeds that time ate you. At the end of the day, the BlackBerry was just a text messaging device that let you match your indie musical tastes to your friends by displaying the songs you’re listening to on your phone as you update your BBM status. Simpler times.
The end of BlackBerry’s reign was ultimately brought about by the superiority of the iPhone, and as people slowly began to migrate to Apple, so did their friends. Lately, however, tech companies have started taking notice of all the ways Gen Z is bringing back the 2000s. Gen Z users creating entire genres of TikTok dedicated to Y2K aesthetics, inspired by their own childhoods. From UGGs and velor tracksuits to the big colorful jewels making a comeback, it’s inevitable that kids will also start demanding a return to 2000s tech. We’ve already seen signs of a response with the release of the iPhone 12s and 13 Mini, but there are rumors that Apple might give us a full-fledged flip phone very soon. Admittedly, they’re not the first to adopt this hybrid touchscreen phone design, as Samsung has already beaten them for this one. While this is still considered an emerging niche market, with promising designs leaked and a tentative release date of 2023-2024, Apple is more than capable of expanding this market and gaining product leadership by capitalizing on the same thing that led to the rise and fall of the BlackBerry dynasty: the fear of missing out.