The Sad Demise of BBM
April 22, 2019

BlackBerry Messenger shuts down next month.

Another BlackBerry legacy is coming to an end: BlackBerry Messenger or most commonly known as BBM has been confirmed to shut down next month, bringing to an end decades of simple, encrypted messaging that brought its users together.

Let’s go back to a decade ago – circa 2009. I was a junior editor working at a publishing company. I remember my editors and colleagues all using a BlackBerry, primarily for BBM and emails. This simple device has been the symbol of a corporate workplace, and despite the iPhone has its own success at the time, BlackBerry is still one of the most-used devices.

I remembered spending a chunk of my salary to get the latest BlackBerry Bold 9700, which cost more than 2000 AED if I’m not mistaken. It was a big investment, but I was happy since I’ll be part of the BlackBerry crowd. After using it for a week, I found my BBM contact list to have more than 20 people, primarily from my workplace. Instead of text messaging, I found BBM to be faster and more secure when sending messages. Even the prospect of using a PIN instead of a phone number added to my confidence in using the platform.

It became like that for a couple of years. BBM was at the peak of its popularity. It became like a second phone number that I didn’t have to pay for. I can use it for personal and work stuff – it’s convenient.

When touchscreen smartphones were first introduced, I was one of the few who had raised eyebrows about it since the appeal of the physical keyboard is something I thought can’t be replicated on a touchscreen.

But the increasing popularity of apps made for iOS and Android somehow placed BlackBerry in the background. Despite the device offering the best security available, the appeal of the iPhone or the earlier Android devices took the spotlight from BlackBerry.

Which is exactly what happened: apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have started to become widely available for everyone, offering the same functions that BBM could do. Which is why many BlackBerry users eventually moved to other platforms, lessening the user base of the once popular BBM.

BlackBerry did eventually bring BBM to other platforms, offering it with ads and other add-ons where it saw that it can gain profit, but evidently, that wasn’t enough to keep most users on it.

Eventually, BlackBerry abandoned its own operating system and favor of using Android, which saw moderate success thanks to users that still favored using a physical keyboard.

Fast forward to today, and we’re learning that BBM is being shut down for good by the end of May. Emtek, an Indonesian-based company that took the development of the app two years ago, said that adding modern features on BBM didn’t help to conjure enough interest.

“We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date. The technology industry, however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on,” Emtek said in a statement.

Fortunately, BlackBerry’s enterprise-grade version of BBM called BBMe is being made available for everyone. If you’re one of the few who still prefer BBM, you can check out BBMe if you have an Android device while iOS users would have to wait until it becomes available. Since it’s an enterprise product, it will be paid – but don’t worry, BlackBerry is offering a free subscription for one year and then you’ll be charged $2.49 after that.

Are you still using BlackBerry Messenger? What made you stick to the messaging platform? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Passionate for all things tech - you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of Blu-ray discs and occasionally plays on his Xbox.
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