back to article The 'experts' who never see BBM will never understand RIM

Written off by pundits and the markets, barely a day goes by without a fresh requiem for RIM. A recent example comes from Jean-Louis Gassee in Saving Private RIM. It’s a good analysis - you never get anything less from Gassee - but astonishingly BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) barely gets a mention. Of all RIM’s assets, the value …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats BBM?

    First time I've ever heard of it.

    1. Irongut

      Re: Whats BBM?

      BlackBerry Messenger

      It is THE reason why teenagers in the UK prefer BB over any other smartphone. A bit like a cross between SMS and Twitter but it doesn't cost them to use so they can message their friends as much as they like (cost is part of the monthly tarrif).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whats BBM?

        And here I thought it was Big Bowel Movement...

  2. Conrad Longmore

    BBM is just an application

    BBM is just an application, it could be rewritten for any platform. Imaging an Android-based BlackBerry with all the nice features from traditional BlackBerry handsets such as BBM and decent email support plus all the good bits from Android. Or if you really want to think left field, then why not port it all to Windows Phone 8? That would be a game changer.

    RIM though seem wedded to the dead-end move to the BlackBerry 10 OS. We don't need another mobile OS, and by 2013 (or whenever it finally comes it) it will be a complete irrelevance.

    1. censored

      Re: BBM is just an application

      Google Talk is on every Android. Imagine if it had the functionality of BBM: read notifications, file sending, photo sharing, maybe even screen sharing. It already does voice and video calls better than Skype, especially as it's now essentially G+ Hangouts so does video conferencing.

      And yet, Google don't seem to care about it. It really, really could be an iPhone killer.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: BBM is just an application

      "BBM is just an application, it could be rewritten for any platform."

      Hmmm, seems that you know nothing of the inner workings of BlackBerry... To exactly replicate BBM on another mobile platform you'd have to replicate their push, identity, and encryption systems. That would be exceedingly difficult on any other platform. Oh, and it's not just BBM that uses these things; they underpin pretty much everything else that's good on a blackberry, especially the push notifications for email, twitter, Facebook, skype, etc.

      The reason why these things are battery killers and data slurpers on other mobile platforms is because they can't do push properly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BBM is just an application

        "The reason why these things are battery killers and data slurpers on other mobile platforms is because they can't do push properly."

        The reason why these things are battery kilelrs and data slurpers on other mobile platforms is because they *ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO PUSH PROPERLY* because of stupid copyright/patent laws.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBM is just an application

      Actually, we do. iOS and Android are still built on server foundations with a lot of stuff missing, their userland multitasking isn't brilliant, and they are totally designed around making money from flogging "apps". As the number of these increases the value asymptotes to zero, so at some point the developers (most of whom make no money) will lose interest. They are basically dum (for suits and Americans) and dee (for everybody else).

      BB10 is based on a real embedded systems platform (more than just an OS) with very efficient multitasking. It is a natural fit with the entire BBM infrastructure, but also with extension into other appliances like cars and smart homes.

      I'm disappointed that it is taking so long - I started and then wound up a small BB development operation because it was going to lose too much cash - but the change is more like Apple's move from OS 9 to Unix at a time when Windows was clearly running out of steam. At the time a lot of people thought Apple would never make Unix a successful desktop operating system, and Microsofties were going around briefing that OS X was based on a server platform that would be destroyed by Windows Server.

      Anybody who has bothered to spend time with the Playbook alongside iOS and Android knows that RIM has a very sound foundation if they can just stop their eccentric business practices and focus on making it work properly.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBM for Android/iPhone/Windows/Linux?

    I'm sure BBM is absolutely wonderful, but until there are clients for all other OSs, it's a bit liking saying that you can only make calls to other iPhones from your iPhone, or that users on Three can't call Orange or BT landlines etc. i.e. pretty limited.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: BBM for Android/iPhone/Windows/Linux?

      There are enough people already on Blackberry Messenger for teenagers to specifically chose a Blackberry as their phone so they can keep in touch with their friends.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: BBM for Android/iPhone/Windows/Linux?

        I teach in an FE College. At least two of my students have a couple of phones: one posh one and one battered old Blackberry. The latter is specifically for BBM. The former is an iPhone 4 series in one case and some big slab thing in the other.

        RIM own teenagers in the UK certainly, but how do you make money out of that without spoiling it? Is £5 month (but often less with bundles) x the number of teenagers give enough turnover?

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: BBM for Android/iPhone/Windows/Linux?

          "....but how do you make money out of that without spoiling it?...." As I understand it, the BBM tech is built into the same backend as BIS, i.e. centralised Blackberry servers. BB then sells access to those services as a bundle to the carriers when they take out a BB franchise. BB can sell the handsets cheap and then make the cash back from the monthly charges it gets from the carriers for every BB user that pays that BB charge as part of their contract. The attraction to the carriers is that they don't have to manage much infrastructure as BB is taking care of it in the background, so it's a relatively low-cost of entry to become a BB franchise partner. If you compare this to say the WinPhone or Android options, the carriers have to manage a lot of their own infrastructure to provide WinPhone or Android services.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Is BBM really that important?

    WhatsApp works, is cheap enough (free the first year, free forever for iPhone the last time I looked), and is mutiplatform. It has no security whatsoever and depending on the platform it hammers the battery and/or hogs the memory but who really cares? It's good enough.

    (Icon is devil's advocate.)

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: Is BBM really that important?

      There is plenty of twitter/facebook clones too - yet you don't see them doing the massive numbers either;

      Same with BBM - its not that its the _only_ one; its the most popular one.

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: WhatsApp works

      WhatsApp came bundled on my Android phone and it doesn't work. I've tried to get it running a couple of times because my daughter suggested it but got nowhere with it. That's not what I call good enough...

      BBM just works.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WhatsApp works

        At least with my circle of friends and acquaintances in Germany, Spain, and the UK, it is absolutely assumed that you have WhatsApp. If you don't, people you meet will be annoyed at you.

        Even my landlady who must be in her early 60s has an Android phone with WhatsApp and uses it to message me (too) frequently.

        I don't know what's going on with your phone but I know WhatsApp can work on Android phones and seems to work very well. That said, most people I know have it for iPhone (in which case it doesn't use any unnecessary battery power since it notifies you of new messages via Apple's notification system).

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: WhatsApp works

          I've deliberately not installed WhatsApp, I find that imposing a cost barrier raises the quality of the messages that I do receive. That and privacy but I've given up privacy crusading these days and when asked why I don't have WhatsApp I just say the phone wouldn't last a day.

          But I can't say I've heard of people having problems with WhatsApp, other than them configuring it wrong and letting it slurp data when they don't want it to, using up the battery, and hogging memory (LeStartStop will properly close it down on Nokias).

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Re: WhatsApp works

          "......If you don't, people you meet will be annoyed at you....." I'm glad I don't know you or your friends then. I use a BB for work and Android for personal phones, and in my opinion WhatsApp is a battery-killing piece of failware. It s one of the first apps I advise people worried about battery life to take off their Android devices, and none of them seem to miss it.

          As regards BBM, I actually don't use it much (no riots to organise) but I do quite often use M$ Messenger on my BB so I can talk to Windows users. If BB gave BBM away as a free app to Windows users it could be massive, but that would mean using it as a loss-leader (Messenger is free) and I'm not sure how that would make BB any money UNLESS they sold the tech to M$ to bundle into the next gen Messenger, and I'm not sure M$ sees the need.

          The only attraction any Apple device holds for me would be that the iStore idea supposedly means I get screened, quality apps from a protected source, but events and Apple's "who-gives-a-monkey" response have blown a hole in that (

  5. batfastad


    Their hardware is excellent. E-mail and text using a qwerty keyboard is brilliant and I just wish there was a wider choice of Android handsets that had the same form factor. I just don't get the obsession with full touchscreens.

    I was considering a Blackberry after my HTC Desire finally broke down as I missed the speed of messaging I could get from the qwerty kayboards of my old work BB and my old Sony Ericcsson P1i. But there are 3 things stopping me from choosing Blackberry OS: 1) Inability to setup an e-mail account without routing it through Blackberry's servers (I don't want push mail all the time, I want to be in charge of my battery and data usage) 2) No native direct support for CalDAV and iCal calendars, 3) No native support for CardDAV address books. From mucking around with my partner's new BB it seems they really want you to set up a BB ID to do anything and also install the (probably massively bloated) software on your computer. I don't want that.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Qwerty

      You are living in the past - some of their keyboards are now dreadful - the base model curves in particular.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Qwerty

      I too moved to a Blackberry (a Pearl) from a SE P1i. The hardware is pretty good (though the screen picks up scratches too easily), and I too prefer the form factor, but the platform is flaky. Too often it just reboots. The browser's starting to struggle with fancy websites (maybe that's the webbies' fault rather than RIM?). You DO need to sign up for the BB backend to do email and web access properly, but then the email is fantastic - I get messages on my phone BEFORE they arrive in Outlook!

      Oh and I've never used BBM. But then I'm in my forties :-D

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: Qwerty

        I'm 40+ and I do use BBM; not as a "social platform" but rather as "better text".

    3. src

      Re: Qwerty

      I switched to a Blackberry Curve after two Android phones. I love it. Brilliant for what the majority of my mobile use consists of: email, BBM (now I have it) and text. Responsive with great battery life. The UI is very efficient for what I use it for. The most satisfying mobile phone experience I have had for years.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But is there any loyalty?

    BB's may have some following due to BBM, but I would argue that most BBM users will happily switch to the next social platform of choice.

    Generalising from the very limited exposure I have had to BBM users, they are generally teenagers or early twentysomethings who want an iPhone but can only afford a BB or low end Android phone. There friends have BB's so that's what influences their decisions. As they make more money, they get a better phone and it is typically an iPhone or Android device.

    As "low end" Android phones become more powerful (i.e. multi-core CPU's and decent amounts of RAM and storage), I don't see BB keeping up regardless of BBM or any other current software offering.

    1. James 51

      Re: But is there any loyalty?

      I have a BB. I really wanted a good nokia but got tired of waiting. Would have settled for Android if I had to but glad I didn't have to.

  7. xyz Silver badge


    BBM is massive and I don't have a Blackberry, but every (black) school kid on my bus does. They love it.

  8. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT)


    To be honest, we can sit here and argue the toss about which OS is better and why would we need the BlackBerry OS, and the limited nature of it, and apps for other platforms which do almost as well. It doesn't make any difference at the end of the day.

    In my office, 9 people have bought mobiles for their kids* (aged between 9 and 15) and have given them free choice (within certain price constraints). All have gone for some variant of BlackBerry so they can have BBM.

    Does this make sense? No. Do I even pretend to understand it? No. But then I don't think twitter makes sense either, and look how that's gone.

    RIM potentially have a very bright future. If they can keep hold of this user base and keep the company running long enough, in the next 10 years they are suddenly going to have a large adult user base to move forward with.

    *I know, I know. This is not a representative result set. This is (probably) not indicative of the wider population. This could not be classed as even remotely scientific. I refer you to my title.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anecdotally...

      The problem is, those same kids will grow out of BBM around the same time that they grow out branded sportswear as a wardrobe staple, and each successive cohort is less wedded to the platform, as it's no longer the only game in town.

      Erosion, it's not fast, but it's hard to argue with.

    2. Nightkiller

      Re: Anecdotally...

      My sons chucked their IPhones after 9 months to get back BBM functionality. They wanted something that was robust instead of chic.

    3. Mr Atoz

      Re: Anecdotally...

      I'm fifty something and me, my wife, our twenty one year old daughter and most of our friends use bbm. Why? Because it is the only texting app that is always on and logged in whenever the phone is on and also gives you instant delivered and read status. Whatsapp and any others like it that I've tried are just crap!

      Some people just want a good communication device with good battery life and could care less about the miriad of apps other phones can run

  9. HamsterNet

    £5 per month

    So charge £7.50 per month on other platforms and get a fully fledged social network going. One that actually makes money without advertising, image that. The market size in cross platform apps is massive for this.

    How can this even be a difficult decision for the CEO? The HW side is now loss making, the OS no longer has any security USPs over Android or iOS. If this is their best app why not try using it to make actual cash from?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: £5 per month

      @Hamsternet, just goes to show how little you know about how RIM do push notifications and security (ie the things that make BBM work really well). Android, WinPhone and iOS just don't provide the right facilities.

      Putting BBM on anything else would be like trying to get a petrol car to run on diesel blended with stale cat's pies.

      Also I suggest you check up on the FIPs security rating of Android and iOS before saying that they're as good as BB OS.

      1. Andy ORourke

        Re: £5 per month

        Of all available pies, stale cat is my favourite.

        "Putting BBM on anything else would be like trying to get a petrol car to run on diesel blended with stale cat's pies."

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Sony CLIÉ

    Classic - PEG NZ90

    THIS is what a gadget should look like... more buttons, sliders, knobs and swivelly bits, contained in a military-esque grey case with exposed screw-heads and rounded corners. Today we just have boring black slabs. I miss you, classic Sony!

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: Sony CLIÉ

      i loved the clies! truly ahead of the curve, and what smartphones today are based on. i loved the look of the nz90, really wanted one, but could only afford the sj33. still a beast at the time.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIM really, really don't want the punters' money

    My son finally migrated off his Blackberry onto an iPhone. He had been glued to BBM for years paying the £5/mo sub.

    If RIM were to offer a £5/mo subscription based App that did all that BBM does and allows logging onto one's BBM account, he and a lot of mates who migrated to Android etc would instantly sign up. If BBM were to become completely cross-platform it would be a killer app to rival Facebook's importance.

    Pity that for IOS, Apple would get 30% of the sub though, not to mention that the Apple App compliance issues might kill the idea stone dead anyway.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: RIM really, really don't want the punters' money

      But as I said elsewhere, a prerequisite for that would be RIM admitting that software and services is where it's at and ditching their hardware business. Imagine what BB handset sales would look like if their few "killer apps" were also available on other platforms.

      One thing that history teaches us in this business is that companies that have grown up in hardware have some sort of superiority complex about it and see moving purely to "soft" as failure. They probably will end up doing exactly this under a slightly different name, divested of their thoroughly bust and unwanted hardware arm, when emerging from bankruptcy in a few years' time.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: RIM really, really don't want the punters' money

        "But as I said elsewhere, a prerequisite for that would be RIM admitting that software and services is where it's at"

        I think this is pretty close to where RIM is right now, admitting publicly that OS is one thing they want to hold on to. Although frankly I bought into BB only because of hardware and am happy with it; I especially like the keyboard (Bold, not Curve) !

      2. Franklin

        Re: RIM really, really don't want the punters' money

        "One thing that history teaches us in this business is that companies that have grown up in hardware have some sort of superiority complex about it and see moving purely to "soft" as failure."

        Often, it IS a failure (BeBox/BeOS, anyone?). NeXTSTEP arguably continues to exist in some form (well, kind of, anyway) because it started out with a hardware maker, floundered as software for a while, then got picked up by a hardware maker. (I say arguably because today's Mac OS X bears little resemblance to NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP, but it's certainly the genetic successor to it.)

  12. Lunatik

    Present consumer don't always

    The problem with assuming that teenage BBM consumers will mature into adult BBM consumers ignores the fact that teenagers covet BBM because it allows them free and unlimited communication with their peers when such communication is still controlled, to an extent, by other factors (parents, finances, school etc.).

    As they mature, leave school, get jobs etc., their needs inevitably become more sophisticated and can no longer be satisfied by a single, narrow tool like BBM. In parallel with this, their purchasing power leaps ahead and the USPs of BBM (cheap and ubiquitous) is no longer such a driver as their social lives evolve into multiple circles which will probably not revolve around inane BBM chat, and they have access to a variety of devices and platforms.

    Like Rameses Niblick III and others, I’ve watched in bemusement as colleagues have been asked to buy their teenagers BlackBerrys for Xmas etc., except the ones I’ve spoken to exhibit strong envy for the much sexier iOS/Android devices and in at least a few cases these BB has been swapped for low-end Android or iPhones models in the last 18 months.

    BBM has been a feature of the teen landscape for a few years now so if we were expecting BBM to retain customers once they leave school then we should now be seeing those in their early 20s still clinging to their BBs. In my office at least this isn’t the case; as soon as they can afford it, all young thrusters bag an iPhone or Galaxy SIII and never look back.

    RIM have (had?) a windows to leverage (urgh) their dominance of the teen market with BBM, but I fear that evolution of their OS/devices will not allow them to keep pace with the alternatives (and their far more advanced services) and eventually the pull away from BB will become so strong that the BBM addicts will desert in droves.

    I predict that if RIM don’t do anything, or pursue the wrong strategy, then when the end comes it will come swiftly.

    1. Paul Johnson
      Thumb Up

      Re: Present consumer don't always

      Wise words.

      Our 11 year old 'tweenager' was given my old BB a few weeks ago when he left primary school. Every kid in his old class is on BBM, without exception. Like the man says, it's unlimited P2P communication, now matter how inane, and they simply love it.

      The young 'uns love for BBM is rarely, if ever, mentioned by the dull men in dull suits when discussing RIM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Present consumer don't always

        "The young 'uns love for BBM is rarely, if ever, mentioned by the dull men in dull suits when discussing RIM."

        Thats cause the dull men in dull suites have iPhone, dull.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is a slightly bewildered article. Given the death of the crackberry platform, it's not clear what would be in it for Sony, who are only just finding their feet on Android, which.. you know, isn't tanking quite as hard.

    Blackberry is slowly bleeding users anyway, there is a sort of dissatisfaction energy leap that people need to hit to leave the platform despite liking BBM, and going iOS or Android, but even the technologically incompetent are hitting it more and more now. Teenagers, in particular, are notoriously fickle, and smartphones with cheaper data contracts could conceivably offer access to a better service with little or no warning.

    The userbase of BBM is degrading in quality as well as quantity, it is becoming quite ghetto. It has a legacy userbase as a pocket social network, but in this New Fangled age, nothing is sacrosanct. It's like "bebo in my pocket", and thus somewhat vulnerable to a better offer coming along out of nowhere. It's not rocket surgery.

    1. Lunatik
      Thumb Up

      Re: Eh?

      "Bebo in my pocket"

      Nailed it.

  14. Francis Vaughan

    What about the rest of the planet?

    The popularity of BBM with the UK kids seems assured. But what to the kids in the rest of the world like to use? Being one of those that has no idea what the yoof of today are up to, I have no idea about BBMs ubiquity, but do feel a little sceptical that RIM have the market sown up in every country that their rivals operate.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: What about the rest of the planet?

      The kids are down wit teh BBM in Spain as well. The rest have something more a little more grown up.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just posted in another thread about comparing Apple 1997 to RIM now, so why aren't I some overpaid industry expert?

    Honestly, why people get paid for opinions I don't know. As someone once said, opinions are like arseholes..

  16. Jess


    Whatsapp, with a little thought could easily take over from BBM.

    1. If it had the ability to register BB pins.

    2. If it forwarded messages to a registered email address when offline

    3. If it had the ability to link accounts.

  17. Chris Young

    I switched ...

    ... from a BB Storm to an Android Galaxy about a year ago, and I still miss BBM. It just 'works',* I can put it no better than that.

    * occasional outage excepted, of course - before some smartarse feels compelled to point this out.

  18. tre4bax

    When I first encountered this I asked my kids worried that they may be missing out but they knew of nobody in their school that used a BlackBerry or BBM! This seemed strange as the Register and everybody else seemed to think this was such a given.

    Leads me to wonder if this is actually just in London or maybe other urban concentrations. Out here in the sticks where connectivity is less assured maybe people don't get so wedded to messenger clients and instead use the slightly less real time threaded text messages.....

    A platform such as this restricted to a single device is not going to survive ultimately when there are similar applications that will work on all clients including blackberry. If they truly want to exploit this then RIM would need to expand the user base but honestly I'm not sure even that would be enough now, blackberry users on the trains in and out of the capital seem to be becoming a rarer and rarer sight.

    1. Irongut

      Not just London but could be an urban thing, I know it's popular with Glasgow teens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Out here in the sticks

      Our crime rate is near zero, but last week a girl was mugged for her BlackBerry. By a young criminal sufficiently stupid not to realise that contacting her over BBM to lure her to a suitable location meant that there is a message trail, and BIS servers are not as secure as BES. The police know who he is.

      In New York I understand it is iPhones that are stolen to order. Here, BlackBerries.

    3. NightFox

      Snowball Effect

      About 6 months ago my 10 year old daughter persuaded me to let her buy a 2nd hand Curve off ebay as 'everyone in her class' had a BB and it was how they were going to stay in touch once they moved on to their different secondary schools.

      When I noticed her PAYG credit plummeting I asked her why she was sending so many SMS/MMS if all her friends were on BBM, at which point it transpired that only 2 of her class actually had BBs. Whether it was a conspiracy or not I don't know, but by the end of term nearly half the class had BBs, presumably their parents being as gullible as me. And obviously now half the class have them, there's even more momentum for the rest to follow.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just the kids...

    I'm reliably informed that Lawyers and Bankers quite like BBM communication too, it's private, secure and very handy for the sort of conversations that shouldn't be held on corporate email servers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just the kids...

      Wonder why the kids love it then?

      So, you could say, being seen with iPhone means you have nothing important or private to say. If you did, you'd be using the BB for its secure comms.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Not just the kids...

        "Wonder why the kids love it then?"

        Because the neat way RIM do push notifications makes it very cheap on data and the battery lasts longer. All good things if you're paying for it out of your pocket money and are stuck in school all day with no access to a mains socket for charging.

  20. Robert Grant

    WhatsApp on BB was a massive mistake

    RIM should've banned the WA app. I've seen a lot of hardcore BB users who've gradually got used to WA, until they're happy to just use WA on any platform. RIM should never have given them the option.

  21. Blitheringeejit

    The point

    I am assured by parents of teenagers with the BBM bug that the key issue is exactly what the rest of us don't get. Because it's a closed platform, and most of us grownups want interoperability, we are not on BBM. Therefore everything the kids share on BBM is shared only with their mates, and not with their parents. Contrast with Facebook - of course all the BBM kids are also on FB, but they (mostly) aren't allowed to lock their parents out of their FB accounts.

    That's why in this case a platform locked to a specific device WILL survive, as long as the grownups keep refusing to buy the devices for themselves while allowing their kids to have them. Of course the teens will move on to more open systems as they grow up and have less to hide, but by then there will already be another generation of teens with secrecy requirements, so the model is sustainable. It can never take over the world, but it does have a revenue-generating USP, which is what matters.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The point

      So the point is that t' yout' don't care about privacy and share everything but then complain when people they don't want to see their messages see their messages. Instead of fixing their privacy settings they use an entirely separate platform which doesn't have the people they don't want to see their messages signed up to. If that's the case then BBM's stuck at the bottom of the market.

      I'd argue that older people are more generally more clued up over privacy, after learning from their and other's mistakes. Constant on-line messaging also tends to lose its importance, there are other things to do.

      Also I'd say that an open system doesn't mean there's no privacy, it means there's a certain amount of interoperability with other systems and users have control over and can export the data.

  22. Jeffrey Jefferson
    Thumb Up


    BBM is also popular with teens in the U.S, I used to love having constant communication with my friends through BBM. We all migrated to Android last year though. I'd seriously consider a BB with OS 10 when my Desire HD contract runs out.

  23. Simon Rockman

    The problem with teenagers is fashion

    While BBM was the fashionable means of communication five years ago, it's matured through mainstream and is approaching tired. Facebook messaging on a smartphone gives you the same access to your mates and reaches them if they are on their PC as well as their phone.

    I've watched my older teenager give up a Blackberry to go Android, the younger one never took up a Blackberry so doesn't feel as though he's lost anything. The BBM for teens asset is one RIM is gradually losing, it's certainly not something with a future.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem with teenagers is fashion

      Yep, it's dying, and the user base is tipping towards less desirable socio-economic segment, who are less well informed or have less access to good-quality information.

      I hesitate to be as blunt as a colleague was recently, when offered a Blackberry- she asked "do I look like a teenage ho from Peckham?" but the implication is there, and the perception is growing in an insidious way.

      As kids from economically desirable and lucrative middle class families grow out of this platform, the next wave of siblings are increasingly influenced by the lure of superior hardware and platforms offered by Android and iOS- not only do they support messaging but decent games and other popular apps.

      BBM certainly used to be a killer app, but that orthodoxy looks increasingly out of date.

  24. kev whelan


    Great piece apart form the (invariably white) bit. Doesnt matter

  25. Matt Piechota

    In the US

    In my (probably limited) experience in the US, the only people that *do* have Blackberry devices are middle-aged men since that's what the corporate IT dept issues for work stuff. Everyone else has Android or iPhone devices.

    I've heard my corporate IT dept is investigating sandboxed Android Apps for corporate email. No cut and paste in or out of the app so there's no data leakage to the unsecured portion of the phone.

  26. Gil Grissum

    BBM is fine if you know anyone who still uses a Blackberry. I've watched an entire office of dedicated Blackberry users switch to iPhone and Android. BBM obviously wasn't critical to them. No one is going to stick with BB7 due to BBM when they have other ways to communicate, not the least of which is text, and who's really waiting around for the first quarter of 2013 for BBM 10? I think RIM is getting desperate. The proof? Previously, Heins was unwilling to consider licensing BB10 but now he's mentioned considering it in an interview with Bloomberg. But again, who's going to sign a licensing deal now for an OS that won't show up until first quarter of 2013 when they can sell Android and Windows Phone 8's this year in time for Christmas shopping?

  27. David 155

    I dont see what the fuss is about

    Its just an instant messenger and not even a free one! People like sheep have gone with bbm just because their friends are on it, without realising that there are multi platform equivalents available. But with all your pals chatting away, who is going to go out in the cold and leave first for an android or iphone?

  28. Mr. Great Sage


    BBM must be a UK thing. No one in the states (that I know of) use BB for anything other than Business E-mail. And most of those businesses are looking to ditch the device for iOS or Android.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh

      No, a lot of would-be thug life types like it too- they like the shiny, and it allows them to "keep it real" as it works with little or no understanding of how to use tech. Lots of US inner city kids use them.

      1. Mr. Great Sage

        Re: Huh


        Must be a different city. I work downtown, and all I see every day are iphones.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Huh

          To be fair, Mr. Sage, you sound more "King Of The Hill" than "The Wire", though :)

          1. Mr. Great Sage

            Re: Huh

            Dangit Bobby, if you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!

    2. Irongut

      Re: Huh

      Do you know any teenagers? They won't be using business email but they might be using BBM. Or it could be a UK thing and that is why US based pundits don't mention it.

  29. The Boojum
    Paris Hilton

    Straight question

    What happens to BBM if - or more likely when - RIM goes bust and no one is running those nice centralised servers?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Straight question

      You lose push notifications and apps either wait forever for something that'll never get there or hammer the battery with a constant data connection like other OSes.

      (Try connecting a BB via wifi in an area without network coverage.)

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Straight question

      ".....RIM goes bust....." Well, that would happen if RIM kept failing in the consumer market, but they always have that safe area of the business market to fall back on which would still fund those centralised servers with profits to spare. There is still no real competitor to BES for Windows/Office/Outlook clients, despite M$'s best efforts, and definitely nothing from Apple that even comes close. RIM's real mistake was letting their investors talk them into thinking they had to compete with Apple in the consumer market when what they should be doing is concentrating on those business BES customers and treating the consumer market as a nice sideline.

  30. Nothing2CHere

    They need a paradigm shift

    I actually have 2 phones that I have carried around for a couple of years, a blackberry from work and an iPhone which I bought with my own funds. I must admit that I am far outside of the teenage user base of BBM but I have to adit that it is a highly functional platform for communication - if RIM opened it up on other platforms, I would gladly pay to use it each month on my iPhone. So far the alternative applications like WhatsUp (sp) and the other clones don't measure up. I think that RIM sort of understands that BBM is their crown jewel but, they just cannot thi their way through separating the service(s) from the hardware - the issue is that for years they defined their customers as the carriers, not the end users, hence the failure to adjust to the various consumer driven shifts in the market. They will make an interesting case study one day - hopefully they get their act together with the net incarnation of their operating system and stop making silly decisions like shipping a tablet without email support. They need to take a hard look at their various services and carve them up strategically for a post blackberry world.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: They need a paradigm shift

      The only reason BBM works well is because of certain specific things in BlackBerry hardware and the OS (push, their security model, etc). Take those away (e.g move BBM over to Android) and you'd end up with something as rubbish as WhatsUp.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They need a paradigm shift

        You keep making the same post over and over. Can you please explain yourself for those of us who have not used RIM devices?

        What makes the RIM security model any better than anything else? Same with push?

        I enabled push notifications on my iPhone ~2 years ago and it did result in a small but noticeable drop in battery life--presumably to stay connected to the data network. I don't understand how that "tax" could be avoided. And after paying the tax it seems to work very well. I get reliable and immediate notifications when I have new WhatsApp messages.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: They need a paradigm shift

          Operators install BB server software which sends SMS messages to the phones. The phones don't have any data connection active unless they receive a a message which tells them to fire up it up and download something. As an SMS message is part of the GSM control signal it means there's no battery overhead. As BB is a closed system I suppose the message itself is non-standard.

          Other phones have a pale imitation with a constant TCP/IP data connection for instant messages or e-mails (e.g. ActiveSync, IMAP IDLE) and keep alive signals every 5/10/15/30 minutes. Nokias and iPhones can also use their manufacturer's centralised notification server which works in the same way where apps can register to receive notifications and the connection to the manufacturer's server is optimised to conserve battery life.

          Nokias also have support for WAP Push e-mail notifications which are a standard but you'd be hard pressed to find an operator that supports them, even your get an e-mail account from your own operator. You could try a third party provider which polls IMAP/POP3 accounts on your phone's behalf and sends the notification message when there's new mail (e.g. T-Mobile Check E-Mail or MoMail).

          AFAIK iPhone and Android only support WAP Push MMS notifications.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            RE: Dan 55 Re: They need a paradigm shift

            Plus, BB has designed the service from the ground up as a secure system for business use. All communication involved - from the email server to the BES server and out to the BB client is encrypted, all working out of the box with M$ Office apps like Outlook, Excel and Word. What BB did was use the same back end for consumer (BIS) customers, giving them an encrypted email and messaging system with an alternative web front-end. By comparison, WinPhone, Android and iPhone are all insecure and require much tweaking and work to get to a similar level of secureness.

  31. Seanie Ryan

    more like the writer missed the point

    the analogy with Porsche might have more of a point if Porsche had a clear market share lead in the auto industry and were losing it hand over fist to others, as BB are now doing.

    maybe thats why they are being written off by experts? Surely if BBM was such a big asset, the market share would be going up?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably only a big deal in places without unlimited SMS

    I don't see this among teens here in the US (midwest) But unlimited texting plans are a no brainer for teenagers, and available everywhere in the US.

    Still don't see what the big deal is with this versus Google Talk and iMessage. Maybe you can do more with BBM and it's slicker, but the downside is that you have to use a Blackberry! Pretty big downside when they are so far behind iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone in everything else.

    My girlfriend had a Blackberry and used to use BBM with some of her friends who also had them (helping her stay under her 1000 texts a month plan) but as her friends dumped their Blackberries she had to text them anyway so when she got an iPhone last fall she didn't miss the old phone one bit.

    Calling BBM a "social network" that rivals Twitter is ludicrous. By that definition SMS is the largest social network in the world! BBM is tied to a single platform that's bleeding market share, and there are two (possibly three, if Windows Phone gains any traction) larger platforms that can replicate BBM functionality quite easily, and likely improve on it. The idea that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft don't have the technical wherewithall to compete with the mighty RIM in providing this sort of service that's really just a polished version of mid 90s IM software is ridiculous.

  33. Jason Tan

    Dead tech

    Dead technology.

    Companies can't see far enough ahead towork with each other.

    So BBM won't end up on iOS or Android and on Blackberry it will die.

    Sad but execs are given bonusses for market share and profiut this quarter/year, not next year.

  34. l3v5y

    Perhaps it's a UK thing? UK teenagers love BBM, American ones (where all the dull people telling us about the state of the industry they don't understand live) aren't so hot on it I think.

  35. bob, mon!

    UK only, or US/rest-of-world too?

    I freely admit to cluelessness, but I don't see kids in the U.S.A. craving Blackberry for its social media. Is this peculiar to the UK, or is this a wider-spread phenomenon?

  36. JimboSmith Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    BBM just for the young?

    I'm approaching the big 40 not 14 and I use BBM (as do my friends) and it's only £3.33 a month from T-mobile if you PAYG for 6 months in advance. I haven't found an unlimited SMS package for that price anywhere else, and BBM rocks!

  37. marcyd

    Where is the USP that can't be easily repeated on any platform?

    Poor analysis. Even my teenage son would rather have an iPhone and he lives in BBM. Ever heard of whatsapp or any other of the millions of free chat programs? Jesus. Believe me teenagers don't care what the plaform is, as long as their friends have it, and it's free. That's not really what I'd call a huge technological advantage for RIM.

  38. James 100

    Workaround for an obsolete problem?

    BBM gave a way to text your friends for free regardless of the network they were on - which was a great asset for cash-strapped teens who had to pay for (cross-network) texts. That didn't happen in the US, and doesn't seem to be the case here any more (plenty of unlimited text plans available cheaply) - end of USP.

    As for "security" - an SMS is encrypted when transferred over-the-air, locked to a specific device (the SIM card and whatever handset it's mounted in at the time) - anyone who actually needs more security than that won't be allowed to use any retail handset for it anyway: they'll get something with actual security, like the Sectera Edge they're thought to have issued Obama with for SIPRnet access. If you aren't using SIPRnet or equivalent, iPhones and Androids are just fine.

    So, what does BBM really offer that an unlimited SMS plan doesn't? Not "security" in any sane sense, not price when it's a few pounds a month for unlimited texts, not ubiquity (anyone BBM can reach, a text can). That's why it's so polarised: some communities - individual schools and groups within a school - ALL have BBs, so they can use BBM - everywhere else, you have to use something else anyway. If even one member of your group can't/won't get a BB device, you have to choose between using BBM for the rest of the group and excluding that one, or using something that works for everyone. Except for teenage girls, that's an easy choice.

    There's still the group functionality - much more convenient for organising riots that way - and SMSs do seem quite limited for that (yes, I can send an SMS to 10 people - but it'll take a second or two for each). Enough to keep RIM afloat? I very much doubt it.

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