Blackberry Messenger for Android is too little, too late

by: Robert TriggsMay 15, 2013
blackberry z10 logo aa

The clock is ticking for BBM

When I first saw this news pop up yesterday I was both amused and rather peeved, but no part of me was excited at the prospect of finally being able to use Blackberry Messenger. I was amused at the epic U-turn, after BlackBerry specifically stated last year that BBM would remain exclusive to Blackberry, and equally annoyed that the company now expects me to care, after turning its back on Android years ago.

I personally have no interest in BBM, but I appreciate that this release may be important for people with friends who are still using it, and that some of you will finally be able to share in the experience.

However, aren’t people still using Blackberry Messenger better off switching to Android?

Redundant software

I guess the crux of my complaint is who really needs Blackberry Messenger these days anyway? There are, and have been for a while, plenty of applications which do exactly the same thing and some which offer various improvements on the old formula.

Android certainly doesn’t need BlackBerry to save us from inferior quality services, third party developers solved our problems ages ago. So, if the only reasonable argument in favour of BBM is that other people still use it, then I’d argue that those people need to drop BBM instead, as there are plenty of superior alternatives available.

In fact, the Android version of BBM will be missing features available in plenty of other apps: we won’t be receiving voice or video chat, features which are commonplace with apps like Google Talk, and Android users will also be missing out on BBM Channel content sharing.


WhatsApp features audio, picture, video, and content sharing. Why would you settle for less?

Sounds like a bit of a raw deal, especially considering that apps like WhatsApp contain all the features that you’d possibly need — video chat, group calls, location sharing, the list goes on. What’s more, WhatsApp is available on BlackBerry, Android, and iOS, so there’s no excuse not to make the switch.

It’s for this reason that I don’t believe that BBM for Android is really going to matter. Customers who were sick of waiting for a cross-platform messaging service will have already made the switch to a competing app. To put this in perspective, although around roughly 60 million people use BBM, over 200 million are using WhatsApp. Will a cut down version of BBM be enough to make people switch? I think not.

If Blackberry wanted to make a big impact on Android, it needed to do something new, something to make us sit up and pay attention, rather than casually swaggering in on the back of a decaying reputation.

So why the long delay, BlackBerry?

Here’s the thing which really bugs me about this — BlackBerry had the opportunity to turn its messenger into a universally used service during the height of its popularity years ago. BBM had every chance to succeed across platforms and would have given consumers a decent product to use. Instead, Blackberry decided to keep it as a proprietary piece of software to tempt customers over to its own platform. But it expects us to flock to its messenger now that it needs the customers.

This delayed cross-platform release strikes me as nothing more than a transparently desperate grab for customers in the face of a dwindling market share. I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways, Blackberry, you can’t keep things closed when it suits you and then expect the average consumer to still be interested years later.

Simply put, for most of us, Blackberry Messenger doesn’t matter any more, we’ve moved on. I’m sure that the app will attract a passable number of users at launch, but only those who want to chat with existing Blackberry owners. I certainly don’t see it attracting new users to the platform. Instead, it will most likely peter out once people trade in their old Blackberry’s for shiny new Android handsets.

  • zzz

    Clearly you know nothing about BBM so your opinion is NULL

    • sam alkhateeb

      tell that to bb market share

      • Ramses225

        Well BB10 recently launched I think we should give it some time before talking about market share

        • Having used BB10 I don’t believe it has what it takes to turn their situation around. It may keep them hanging on by a thread but I don’t see it pulling them back up into being a real contender. It is sad too, because RIM is a great company and BB was cutting edge for years. I wish they hadn’t made BB10 so much like iOS.

          • Ramses225

            Just for now. May be with feedbacks of people like you they will get better and better and be able to compete. From the first Android os to jellybean it took time. Let us give it a good 2 years to better discern where the platform is going

          • I agree, BB10 may keep them hanging on long enough to put out a new version of their new OS. Those could be better and do more towards bringing them up to contender status. I had higher expectations for BB10 though.

    • Ruzveh

      I know what you are talking about but at the same time you also dont know what the author is talking about.. I agree with both

  • sam alkhateeb

    agree with article…plus blackberry is dead …

    • I’ve been listening to morons proclaim BlackBerry is dead for over a year now…..a broken clock has a better track record.

      • sam alkhateeb

        Keep dreamin’ man…nobody cares what BlackBerry does anymore

        • Blackberry 120% stock gain over the last 8 months, apple down 30%, it would appear someone cares. Judging by Q10 and Z10 sales its obvious you live in a bubble.

          • sam alkhateeb

            BB stock hit rock had nowhere to go but up…tell me how many units did they sell so far..?

          • re: it had nowhere to go but up
            Both the media and countless analcysts predicted they were going out of business ad nauseum for most 2012…..the same analycysts were also calling for APLE $1000
            …if ‘nobody cares’ how do you explain 120% gain?

          • sam alkhateeb

            They are still ranked at the bottom…give it up man…

      • monkeypox69

        LOL you Blackberry losers are amusing. Join the rest of us in the 21st century.

  • Ramses225

    I don’t believe BBM is caduc.If blackerry was to go bust, the only thing I see surviving is BBM. I’m just curious to see how they are going to implement the use of pin. Also will it be free or will they charge for it? Let us wait and see

    • nishantsirohi123

      Perhaps the BBM pin shall be device specific
      targetting it IMEI number or perhaps the google account
      but it should be something that need not require sharing the phone number
      i would love to try the BBM

  • im not appreciated the way blackberry is dealing with their clients. android helps me a lot and it makes sense and cater the needs of the user to simplified everything. without spending to much money in it.

  • williamworlde

    Ah Mr. Triggs! As an Android-toting Canadian, it amuses me that the Android community (read writers at AA) feel so threatened by, according your repeated pronouncements, a failed smartphone platform that you must keep knocking it on every thing it does or does not do!

    I just signed on to WhatsApp so I can talk to friends and family using all 3 major platforms: Android, BB and iOS, but I can’t wait to switch to the more secure BBM. Also, for us, the $0.99 WA will be charging after the first year’s use is of no consequence, but for many people, say Bangladeshi sweatshop factory workers making $38/mth., a free BBM will be a big deal. And of course, it is more secure than anything Android can possibly dream of!

    You also conveniently mentioned the MM functions it will initially lack. However, you also failed to educate your readers that they will be get those said features by year’s end.

    I’ve said it before, but will say it again: Grow up AA! Tell us all the wonderful things our Android devices can do and what the feature looks like for it, etc. It will NEVER be the only smartphone platform (likened to one race, one God, etc., etc., etc.). And that’s exactly the way I, as a CURRENT Android platform user, want it!

    • I’ve been using Whatsapp for more than a year and haven’t paid the 99 cents. So your sweatshop point is invalid.

    • Zag

      i agree with the writer…really dun see what you trying to say here…bangladeshi sweat shop workers?? where did the hell did u get that from?

    • Not sure how this article is immature. He is writing an opinion, one that is shared by many others in fact. What I find funny is that you feel you need to defend RIM simply because you are Canadian. I reached this assessment when reading your first line “As an Android-toting Canadian”. By the way, BB is a failing smartphone platform. AA doesn’t need to say it, marketshare already does.

    • On a Clear Day

      Blackberry screwed up way back when they decided to give Android – and those of us who couldn’t give a flying fig about Blackberry’s system – the cold shoulder. As with so many companies – most now long gone and forgotten – that thought they had a lock on the market and everyone locked into their system with no alternative but they, they have made themselves – for all practical purposes – irrelevant; whether we are talking BBM or their latest “and greatest?” “smartphone.

      Their mistake was thinking like Apple thinks and like Apple still thinks; that they are so special that people will not even think to look anywhere else to satisfy the needs their devices offer, when in fact, thank God, we live in a world where free enterprise, capitalism and innovation still reign supreme. Despite the best legal efforts dedicated internationally to thwarting and hamstringing it that can be mustered by the forces of anti-creativity.

  • Farouq Arifin

    This is actually a pretty big news in Indonesia, one of BB’s largest markets, considering that even though the BB sales are still strong here, the steady rise of Android does pose a certain threat…

  • Alterac

    This is good news for those people with Government issues devices, the Plan they have is very restrictive on the data side, and other messengers are blocked.
    BBM on android frees up my GF from having to stick to Blackberry due to her relatives all being gov’t employees.

  • Matteo van Richtenstien

    The benefit of BBM- what that I feel many Android users will appreciate- is the ability to set your own contact list with a PIN system. With whatsapp, I’ve always disliked the fact that absolutely everyone in a person’s phone contact list can read his/her status updates and view his/her profile pics. BBM offers privacy in that regard. I will certainly be using BBM on my android…and I’m sure my friends/family would agree. The fact that messages are also sent more securely from one phone to another via BBM is another good reason to move over from Whatsapp. I’m glad this is finally happening- I get to keep loving my amazing Android, while enjoying the benefits of BBM.

    • Bertus Minnaar

      remember that bbm is so secure because of the server it runs through, it is still unclear if this bbm will work through the same server. the device itself has a huge impact on the encryption itself. like i said, we will still have to see about the security.

      and we chat offers the same capabilities and more so you can always shift to that platform.

  • Soonershooter

    Smells like BB makes a ton of really bad business decisions….

    • monkeypox69

      One after another after another. Amazing they still exist.

  • jesusfriedchicken

    i think the question here is when was the last time you used a blackberry phone? “WhatsApp features audio, picture, video, and content sharing. Why would you settle for less?” who says bbmsn doesn’t? clearly you either haven’t had a blackberry in the past (like everybody else) or you’re completely …. ignorant about it, also the reason why many people (me included) don’t switch to android is because they’re a little more expensive.

    • Read the article again. He is speaking of the Android version of BBM which will be lacking many of the standard BBM features such as video and voice calls and content sharing. He is saying that people on Android aren’t going to stop using whatsapp for the gutted Android BBM.

    • monkeypox69

      LOL who’s ignorant?

  • truthagain

    Another small minded AA writer, such a shame that they never seem to stop an find some decent writers…..

  • BBM is still widely used by people in major BB countries like Indonesia, South Africa and India. Even with WhatsApp’s availability, the Blackberry Internet service is still running in Indonesia and to use WA you need to register to the most expensive plan. There are lower priced plan, but regular internet data is not accessible hence, no WA for a lot of people. And for these countries, for most of the people there mobile is probably the only internet access they have.

    As I mentioned, BBM is still widely used and not just for social usage, but also for business. Letting go is not just hard but could make you loose money. For these people, having the option to carry 1 phone (rather than 1 iOS/Android device and a BB) is Godsend.

    Secondly, I think BB waited how the public will respond to BB10. If it was good, I think they would’ve kept BBM exclusive on their platform. Since it has been lukewarm, rather than people STOP using BBM (Since they’re moving to Android or iOS), they prefer that people still use BBM even if it is not on their platform. Who knows, maybe in the future, they can grab the market again and having a number of user on their BBM service could help them get back.

    • Bertus Minnaar

      For me working in a cellphone store dealing with blackberry complaints the whole day, you’d be surprised as to how many people in south africa is fed up with faulty devices, getting app error messages and loosing all their data as well as just slow download speeds. our store sales has dropped on the blackberry front by atleast 70 persent. and all the business clients just moved to IOS which is very expensive as to where our other clients moved to android, more specific, Samsung

  • MasterMuffin

    Too many BB fans in AA…

  • No thanks. No need for BBM. Using whatsapp and it’s just fine.
    I mostly agree with the article.

  • I was interested in BBM 5… maybe 6 years ago. Not even a blip on my radar anymore.

  • nishantsirohi123

    you ask why…
    i think…why not

    when BB10 uses android apps ported onto it

    i guess it is fair they return the favor

  • MariaxNY

    no thanks i use whatsapp

  • Are you sure Whatsapp works on iOS? I thought Apple removed it from the store last year! So it’s not so crossplatform after all!

  • ashun shah

    I need updates when a user changes his pics, or Updates his status. It gives me a close connections with them. The groups in BBM are not much much much better than Whatsapp or anyother. The ability to like and comment on pictures in groups is certainly very unique + Creating events, is also something i would want . I guess the author never actually compared the features. BBM Is awesome for PPl with lot of friends or small group who loves to be hyper connected (Like me). Whatsapp is no where close to BBM. Author should try using BBM

  • Pete

    Yeah, you have that whole socially retarded, know-it-all, snotty thing going on, Bobby

  • Blackberry just die already. It’s sad hearing about your failures time and time again.

  • athh

    You answered your own question. There are plenty of apps that do what bbm does. But bbm is the only app that will do everything.

  • Androidphan

    BB is so great that’s why they have to try and sideload Android apps to their BBs. I know Android owners don’t have to do that.