Remember me? I'm back! Again!!
Today marks the end of an era as legacy BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 phones officially go End of Life (EOL).
I don't feel sad about this. We've known it was coming and longtime BlackBerry fans have already been put through the emotional wringer many times over the years. You might say we have thick skin… especially on our thumbs!
Instead, today I find myself full of warm and fuzzy memories from BlackBerry and CrackBerry's glory days.
The stories of BlackBerry and CrackBerry have been intertwined since this site launched back in 2007. Since the story of BlackBerry is coming to a close, it's time I find a new way to write CrackBerry's.
Since time is money and inflation is way outta control, here's a quick summary of what's happening:
- CrackBerry.com is now under new ownership. Well, old ownership actually. I, CrackBerry Kevin, a.k.a. CBK a.k.a. the original Founder and Fearless Leader of CrackBerry Nation, have purchased CrackBerry back from its previous owner, Future PLC.
- Over the course of 2022, CrackBerry is going to get relaunched. The new CrackBerry will not be a BlackBerry-focused website. It will be something… different… and more… I don't have the grand vision all worked out just yet, and I'd rather under-promise and over deliver, but I'm confident with time CrackBerry will become something really, really awesome that brings us those warm and fuzzy feelings of the good 'ole days as we all face the future together.
- For our remaining active BlackBerry forums users, I will keep forums.crackberry.com live and accessible for years to come. No need to panic!
Summary out of the way, if you want more details of what's going on and the thinking behind it, keep reading.
Saving CrackBerry From Extinction
The opportunity came up recently for me to purchase CrackBerry back from Future PLC, the company we sold Mobile Nations to in March 2019.
Given the state of the BlackBerry world (and the whole world for that matter), it didn't feel like the smartest business opportunity for me to pursue. At the same time, I also felt like if I didn't buy it the most likely outcome for the future of CrackBerry would be its eventual deletion. In a world that values growth above all else, it doesn't make sense to throw time and money and energy at supporting something on a rapid decline.
After pondering the decision, I decided to throw business sense out the window and get the deal done. I could figure out what to do with CrackBerry after I owned it again.
The Framework for a New CrackBerry
Reflecting on CrackBerry's past while thinking about what a new CrackBerry could look like, a few thoughts have become abundantly clear:
- A new CrackBerry will have to move past the BlackBerry legacy in order to have a chance and a hope of thriving again.
- If I'm going to invest the time and effort and expense to relaunch CrackBerry, the mindset needs to be that a CrackBerry publication and community 40 years from now could and should still be relevant. Products come and go, technology changes and what's a trending topic one year becomes outdated the next. A new CrackBerry should be built with a long-term mindset that matures and evolves alongside all of us that are part of "the CrackBerry Generation".
- A new CrackBerry would have to continuously capture the essence of the early days of CrackBerry. When this site first launched in 2007 it was by no means the first BlackBerry website. There were already several popular BlackBerry blogs and forums. What made CrackBerry stand out and become a vibrant and truly iconic media brand was how we covered BlackBerry. Our CrackBerry team was made up of misfits. Our content was fun and full of passion and positivity (even when we were being prickly about our BlackBerry pain points) and our amazing community brought the site to life. Come for the articles, stay for the comments and forums! And we did a lot of crazy stuff that was memorable and just made you laugh and enjoy your day a little bit more.
- I finally realized that CBK and Kevin Michaluk are the same person. This will sound ridiculous, but in the past I tried to simplify my life by consciously wearing different hats: CrackBerry Kevin the BlackBerry/content guy, Kevin Michaluk the business guy, Kevin the person. When we sold Mobile Nations my "CrackBerry Kevin" name went along with the sale and in hindsight I realize now so did part of my identity that I've been missing since. Most of the people I've met the past 15 years have known me as CrackBerry Kevin. It's a history and story I'm proud of, even if the association to BlackBerry dates me a bit. There's a lot of work to do to build a new CrackBerry, but just having my name back and being CBK again I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. With the new CrackBerry I won't split my personality. CBK is Kevin. Kevin is CBK. CrackBerry won't be the only thing I do. I'll likely always have other projects on the go, but CrackBerry will be my constant and my center from which all awesome and fun things flow!
Relaunching CrackBerry in 2022
Over the course of 2022, CrackBerry is going to get rebuilt and relaunched. The process will be a bit messy and weird and probably go against every best practice. But it'll happen. And I'll lean on the community a LOT for your input. I hope you stick around and come back often and help shape what CrackBerry becomes next.
Here are some of the things that will happen next as we embark on the new CrackBerry journey:
Migrating CrackBerry to a New Tech Infrastructure - Over the next couple of months CrackBerry will get migrated away from Future's existing servers and over to a new tech infrastructure that I'm setting up. Currently I have access to publishing content and making some very subtle site tweaks, but right now the techstack and adstack are still powered by Future.
Once we get the site moved over (primary goal not to break anything too badly along the way), then we can start fixing and tweaking things and planning for change.
Defining Our Audience and Strategy - While the tech migration work is happening behind the scenes, in parallel we'll start to hone in on our new audience and content strategy. The reality is, I report to no one and we can do whatever the hell we want. So if we try things and they don't work, we'll scrap them and try some other things until over time CrackBerry finds its new groove.
I could write thousands of words here on audience development and content strategy, but to keep it brief let's just say for now that our content will be beyond BlackBerry, but everything we cover will be done in that old school CrackBerry way. Tech and gadgets will definitely be part of what we cover as that's in the CrackBerry DNA and it's just fun. We'll obviously have a nostalgia section where BlackBerry can live on forever, but we'll also look at new tech.
Outside of tech, I also want to explore areas that appeal to me where I think the CrackBerry way of covering them will add value and resonate with a lot of others. Topics like health, home, money and hobbies are all on the table. We'll stick to producing original content done in a way that's honest and fun, and stay away from topics that get too serious. The world is serious enough as it is, so CrackBerry should be a place that leans to the side of lighthearted. Oh, and we'll have LOTS of giveaways. Because winning free stuff is the BEST.
Building a New Crack Team - When I think about CrackBerry's past, more than phones I think about the people I've had the opportunity to meet over the years and build lasting relationships with. Without CrackBerry my life would be very, very different. Some of my best friends and absolute favorite people I know are all thanks to CrackBerry, and I'll always consider my former Mobile Nations work colleagues to be family. I know that for so many other individuals CrackBerry has been life changing as well. It's helped them launch their careers and even find their spouses!
Looking ahead to building a new CrackBerry, I'm starting from scratch again. Outside of the amazing volunteer moderators and ambassadors that keep the forums running, there's just me. For now. I'm hoping this initial announcement serves as a catalyst to get others intrigued and excited for the mission ahead. If being part of the New Crack Team is something that appeals to you, stay tuned for more details on how you can get involved.
CrackBerry is Dead, Long Live CrackBerry!
Now that you know what's coming for the future of CrackBerry, it's time to pour one out and reminisce a bit longer on the good 'ol days of BlackBerry and CrackBerry.
An "End of An Era" CrackBerry podcast definitely has to get recorded this week. I'll see which of the former podcast troops I can find and convince to join.
But for CrackBerry, don't be sad. This isn't the end. This isn't even the beginning of the end. It's merely the end of the beginning.