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A brief history of the Blackberry’s iconic Y2K pop culture moments

What’s your BBM?

Blackberry phones are coming back: and this time, they’re 5G. The Blackberry – which pretty much began to drop off the face of the earth when the iPhone arrived in 2007, was once the celebrity handset du jour. In many ways, it was the precursor for our constant connectivity today: it had email, apps, and of course BBM, a kind of early WhatsApp that was at the centre of many a friendship drama and celebrity shitstorm, at one point boasting 85m users. 

Blackberry phones officially stopped being made in 2016, but now a Texas start-up has plans to bring them back for 2021 – although this time, on Android. To celebrate the return, please enjoy a few cherry-picked moments from the phone’s storied pop cultural history.

PHARRELL HAD A GOLD PLATED ONE

Back in 2006, around the time of his album In My MindPharrell was proudly showing off his 18 karat gold Blackberry casing. It was created by “king of bling” Jacob Arabo, AKA Jacob the Jeweller. By 2008, though, in a sign of things to come, he’d traded it in for a gold iPhone instead. 

BEYONCÉ SLEPT WITH HERS

It’s hard to imagine a time when Beyoncé was a pop star, not yet a pop deity. But cast your mind back to 2011, when the singer was recording her album 4 and had just been confirmed to feature in A Star is Born (yes, that A Star is Born). We all know she’s famed for her work ethic, and Bey herself confirmed it in one interview, admitting that she slept with her Blackberry and dreamed of replying to emails. 

PARIS HILTON DENIED HACKING LINDSAY LOHAN’S

The Blackberry was the definitive phone of mid-00s LA it girls, so naturally was central to their drama. Like when Paris Hilton was forced to deny that she’d hacked Lindsay Lohan’s back in 2006, or the time LiLo and friends Nicole Richie and Samantha Ronson were accused of sending model Lauren Hastings (the Britney-alike in Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” video, as if this story couldn’t get any more 00s) a series of mean texts.

LANA DEL REY WROTE A SONG ABOUT BBM

She wasn’t quite the household name, but back in 2011 Lana Del Rey worked on a very Lana Del Rey song called BBM Baby. “I be BBM'in you / Telling you / All the things I'm gonna do to you”, she sings, about a man who – shocker – keeps her keen but treats her mean. The song leaked on Tumblr in 2016. Soulja Boy and Sean Kingston also had a BBM-themed bop.

IT WAS ALL OVER TV

From Gossip Girl’s texts to the cast of The Hills, you couldn’t move in the mid-00s TV without someone picking up their Blackberry. And although the phone famously at the centre of Pretty Wild’s “Nancy Jo, this is Alexis Neiers calling” moment appears to be a Blackberry-a-like, let’s just pretend it was a Berry for old times’ sake.

KIM KARDASHIAN STOCKED UP ON THEM

Although the Blackberry’s time was limited once the 2010s hit, there were some die-hards who refused to let go of their beloved phones. Obama was one, but perhaps the most famous devotee was Kim Kardashian, who tweeted in 2016 that her already discontinued Blackberry Bold had moved on to smartphone heaven and the “sad” reality of the situation had set in.

ALICIA KEYS GOT HACKED… BUT NOT ON HER BLACKBERRY

Back in 2013, Alicia Keys was appointed Blackberry’s Global Creative Director. A job she didn’t have for very long until her Twitter account tweeted “Started from the bottom now were here!” (sic). From an iPhone. Escándalo! Keys blamed it on a hack and parted ways with Blackberry a year later.