Blackberry Messenger, which is commonly referred to as just BBM, is a great chat tool. It was the first of its kind that used its own network to allow unlimited chatting without the restrictions of text messaging (which there are few of now anyway). Apple’s iMessage came along more or less as a duplicate of BBM and is probably a nicer implementation although many prefer BBM.
Each to their Own
BBM and iMessage are great tools. For the longest time, each worked within their own ecosystem and this is great as long as your part of that ecosystem. BBM users could contact BBM users and iMessage users their counterparts.
However, this formed the basis of a huge whole which relates to open systems. As long as your part of an ecosystem you can participate. However, what if you’re an iMessage user who wants to chat with an Android user. You can do that but outside of the broader functionality of the chat systems.
Blackberry, which found itself in trouble recently and remain so, had what was considered the best of the chat messaging systems. A lot of pressure mounted on BlackBerry to make the system cross platform compatible. Blackberry originally resisted as they felt that BBM was their strongest tool to get people to buy Blackberries. Unfortunately, this was highly mistaken logic and people were buying iPhone and Androids in the droves diminishing Blackberries market share to almost negligible if not irrelevancy.
The pressure mounted on Blackberry to port BBM to maintain relevancy. Eventually, under the guidance of a new CEO that was charged with refocusing Blackberry the decision was made to do a broad platform cross systems port of BBM. Again, it’s like BlackBerry came to the party late. The others had not done this so they didn’t arrive to this party late. They just arrived late for everything.
However, it is not clear that they are late or not in porting BBM. It is probably one of the smartest things BlackBerry could do. Now if you want to chat to a Blackberry, Android or iPhone user there isn’t a problem. It is speculated and is probably likely that BBM will make it to Windows phone and may even make it to the desktops of computers like the Mac and Windows.
BBM Breaks the Walls
The walls that once kept all users within their own domains is breaking down. Users might not appreciate yet what this means but there will not be a reliance to use Text Messaging when they can use BBM from their phone across all the various platforms their friends might be on. However, this is very significant in that no matter which platform you’re on you can use BBM to talk to anyone.
This is an important move on Blackberry’s part. It not only breaks the barriers down between platforms that once existed but it maintains Blackberry’s relevance. They remain the leaders not necessarily in phones but communications. It took a lot before they gave in, so to speak, but now that they have they couldn’t have done anything wiser.
For the user it allows them to take advantage of a service that is both robust and provides more capabilities than text messaging. In fact, it probably provides all of the capabilities of your native messenger such as iMessage but can do it across platform lines. Things such as the ability to make a voice call were more than interesting. Other functionality was of interest was the ability to send voice messages to your contacts a number at once if you so desired. The built-in feature that allows you to copy entire chats sounds almost mundane except when you think of all the information that can be gathered in chats. EMail allows you to search that information. Why not chats.
BBM Steps in the Right Direction
A move to open systems is definitely a step in the right direction. Vendors such as Apple like to hold you into their ecosystem by ensuring it only plays within that ecosystem. For Apple this isn’t much of a problem when there is so much available and it it just works.
However, to be held within that ecosystem by a product that we’ve come to not only have fun with but rely on is not so hot. Open systems have always been the fabled mantra of Info Tech. They frequently fail for one reason or another. As long as enough people jump aboard this show they will benefit and it will become a success. If people don’t it will fail and the looser is user.
It’s a Good Approach
For both Blackberry and the user this is a good approach. Its success of course relies on adoption. It will be hard to get someone off of their iMessage system to use BBM. However, not if their friend is on Android say. No one will really want to step down to text messaging when they can accomplish what they want with BBM.
Open systems, either defacto or via a standards body, has always proved challenging due to complexities, in-fighting and a lack of impetus as to why. In all three of these scenarios the answer is there in the positive. There is lack of complexity, no in-fighting so the only thing that remains is for the user to jump on board. This is the interesting piece. Will the user board train BBM or let it pass by in the night.