Technology / #ForbesTechnology

April 20, 2019,   2:37 PM

RIP Blackberry Messenger Aka BBM

Jamila Gandhi



Credit: Shutterstock

In a blog post, Emtek announced that May 31 will be BlackBerry Messenger’s (BBM) last functional day, after which the app will cease to exist for consumers. The Indonesian company acquired the development of BBM’s consumer version in 2016.

Officially released in August 2005 as a key feature of the Blackberry devices, the app was the medium of choice before much agile applications such as WhatsApp took over. Nearly five million downloads were recorded in the first eight hours of its launch. Exchanging BBM pins had achieved a cult status in the pre-iPhone and Android era.

BBM, as it is commonly referred to, had tried to adapt to the changing market by launching versions adaptable to Android and iOS platforms. However, a heated competition within this space by applications such as Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WeChat and Whatsapp led to its gradual market collapse.

The app’s attempt to regain popularity with stickers, music and BBMoji, was ultimately insufficient to regain its market share within the smartphone market. The difficulty of bringing new users to BBM was highlighted as a contributing factor to the shutdown of the service.

But BBM will not be obliterated totally. Blackberry has declared the release of the BBM Enterprise (BBMe), targeted at individual users. The iOS version is still under development but BBMe is available for public use on Android immediately. The new app will be free to use for the first year but will cost a charge of 2.49 for a six-month subscription thereafter. Considering BBMe’s new built-in enterprise-grade end-to-end encryption and how the consumer version failed multiple security tests, ardent BBM users may find the subscription cost justifiable.

“While we respect Emtek’s decision, we’re disappointed the platform did not thrive and grow as expected,” Mark Wilson, BlackBerry’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “After much consideration, we decided that BBM’s loyal users should continue to have a secure messaging platform that they can trust.”

Users of BBMe will need to create new accounts and will be unable to access their past conversations, photos and other data on BBM once the service shuts down. Although they are technically different services, BBMe offers several similar features of BBM, including group chats, calls and ability to edit, retract and set an expiration time on messages. BBMe can be used on up to five devices simultaneously and can be accessed on Windows and Mac computers. 

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