WhatsApp has confirmed that it will stop supporting BlackBerry’s software later this year, further signalling the demise of the once dominant mobile OS. Older Nokia and Windows Phone devices will also cease to be supported.
WhatsApp for BlackBerry OS, including the newest BB10 release, will be discontinued by the end of 2016. The announcement is unlikely to come as a huge surprise considering BlackBerry’s measly share of the global smartphone market. However, it won’t affect the BlackBerry Priv smartphone, which runs Google’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow software.
WhatsApp will also end support for Nokia’s Symbian S40 and S60 operating systems, Android versions 2.1 and 2.2 and Windows Phone 7.1. These operating systems “don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future”, according to WhatsApp.
“This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family and loved ones using WhatsApp,” the company added.
WhatsApp reflected on happier times for BlackBerry, saying that BlackBerry and Nokia had once commanded 70 percent of mobile devices when the messaging app launched in 2007. This figure has now shrunk to less than one percent, and WhatsApp noted that Apple, Google and Microsoft now account for 99.5 percent of smartphones sold globally, justifying the decision.
WhatsApp suggested “upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone or Windows Phone” to continue using the service.
The news may be disappointing for BlackBerry, but the firm will not be overly concerned as it is slowly moving away from BB10 OS in favour of Android for newer phones, although it will still provide platform updates.
BlackBerry will also focus more on its software services, such as around security, based on the acquisitions of Good Technology and Watchdox and recently announced deal for UK firm Encription.