BBM is shutting down on 31st May 2019, a statement on the BBM blog notes.
“Today we’re announcing that we will be closing BBM consumer service on 31 May 2019.”
BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, like we all used to call it, had a good run.
Back in the day, being on BBM was almost a status symbol in some quarters.
You know, long before the smartphone era began in earnest, those who had BlackBerry devices from RIM (Research in Motion, what the maker of BlackBerry phones used to be known as), had this exclusive club where they could chat with each other for hours on end. Heck, those who not only managed to break into that exclusive club but could also afford to splurge even more on the limited edition BlackBerry smartphones from Porsche Design had special BBM PINs to announce their status to the world.
Such were the good old days.
However, like many other technologies and technology companies before it, BlackBerry failed to move with the masses and the times. Not only did it miss the mass movement occasioned by the arrival of the iPhone, it also held on to BBM for far too long instead of availing it on every platform and attracting new users. It’s not lost on us the irony of Apple being accused of doing pretty much the same thing with iMessage today.
As BlackBerry took its sweet time, other messenger apps took root. WhatsApp, which had existed briefly in the pre-iOS/Android era, slowly built itself up as the messenger app of choice for the masses, including even BlackBerry users since both the sender and the recipient needed BlackBerry devices in order to use BBM.
By the time BBM was being made available to other platforms, like our beloved Android, in May 2013, its would-be users were already hooked to other services and that move only served to, mostly, excite existing BlackBerry users who were increasingly beginning to sample what was on offer on other platforms.
As the blog post announcing the service’s shuttering next month correctly notes, “users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”
It is worth noting that the BBM service being shut down is the consumer service. Those who rely on BBM for their workplace chatter are still safe as the enterprise version is staying put.
Those who had made in-app purchases – like BBM stickers, for instance – on the Android app can request for refunds and those will be processed through Google Play. BBMoji purchases, however, are not eligible for any refund.
It is rather sad to see BBM go but it would be dishonest to say it will be missed. What with the likes of Telegram Messenger and their endless capabilities around.
BlackBerry, just like it had done with its hardware services, had outsourced BBM to Indonesian firm Emtek. It is Emtek that is responsible for pulling the plug on BBM as communicated today. As a result, BlackBerry is opening up the enterprise version of BBM to ordinary users who will still want to stick around after May 31st. The BBMe app is available on the Google Play Store.
It is worth noting, though, that the app is not as full-featured with all the fun stuff (BBMojis, stickets and all) as the consumer version and just caters to the usual stuff – chats, video calls. Importantly, it emphasizes on the security credentials that BlackBerry has been known for for years. After the first year, though, it will cost upwards of Kshs 250 to keep on using the service for a further 6 months.