Say a prayer for Kim Kardashian: Yesterday, BlackBerry announced it was discontinuing its BlackBerry Classic model, the last vestige of its former glory days. While the company will seemingly continue to produce other (less chic) models, the keyboard-centric BlackBerry as we know it has officially been consigned to the dustheap of history.
Way back when, the BlackBerry was the first smartphone to become a full-blown cultural sensation, spawning a nation of “CrackBerry” addicts whose BBM pin was as essential a marker of selfhood as birth date or blood type. Thinking back on my own BlackBerry days, I can still feel its heft in my pocket, hear the clacking of its keyboard, remember the soft squish of its roller ball. I close my eyes and can still see that flashing red light signaling an incoming message, a beacon of connectivity in the lonely nights: You are not alone, that light said. You will never be alone again.
Throughout the 2000s, everybody who was anybody was spotted with a BlackBerry in hand, from Madonna, who told reporters she and Guy Ritchie slept with theirs under their pillows, to Oprah Winfrey, who named it one of her “favorite things” back in 2005. Remember 2006, when Lindsay Lohan accused Paris Hilton — who had her own BlackBerry hacked back in 2004 — of hacking her BlackBerry and sending mean texts from it? (Has there ever been a more 2000s sentence?) Back in 2007, a young Canadian named Justin Bieber even offered to be the company’s brand ambassador, with BlackBerry dismissing him because RIM honchos thought his career wasn’t going to last. If only they had Beliebed as much as they believed in their product, what a different world it might have been.
Politicians, too, favored the device for its security features. Al Gore reportedly received the 2000 Election Night results on his BlackBerry, with his campaign manager messaging him, “Never surrender. It’s not over yet.” Obama, too, used a BlackBerry through most of his presidency, modified for additional security. And, of course, Hillary Clinton’s single-minded devotion to her BlackBerry was so fervent that it spawned a classic meme … and an FBI investigation. What says brand loyalty more than a potential indictment?
Yet even once the phones fell out of vogue, dwarfed by the iPhone, they still had their adherents — those members of the A-list whose chubby, ungainly fingers pined for a keyboard. “Still PING squad for life,” tweeted Drake in 2014, always one to support Canadian industry. In 2014, when Bill Murray finally ditched his legendary 1-800 number in favor of a smartphone, he chose an old BlackBerry to be his first smartphone. As recently as May, Sarah Jessica Parker revealed she remains a BlackBerry devotee. And, of course, there is Kim Kardashian, the phone’s most loyal adherent, who is known for hoarding old BlackBerry Bolds she buys on eBay. “It’s my heart and soul,” Kim told Kara Swisher back in 2014. “I love it, and I’ll never get rid of it.”
Sorry, Kim: Nothing Bold can stay.
In honor of the Classic’s demise, here is a look back at some of the phone’s most classic celebrity moments.