The High Tech Society

Blackberry Messenger for Android and iOS: White Flag or Super Strategy?

Blackberry Messenger for Android and iOS: White Flag or Super Strategy?

The BlackBerry name originally became popular because of their phone’s messaging capabilities (and because it was one of the first smartphones). The handsets each had a useful QWERTY keyboard which is much easier to use than a standard phone touchpad. In addition, the BlackBerry Messenger service, which was essentially something like a BlackBerry-exclusive messaging platform, was also enjoyed by the RIM (Research in Motion Limited or the company that owns Blackberry) faithful. Now, Blackberry has announced that their Blackberry Messenger or BBM is going to be available for iOS and Android devices

Blackberry messenger

The Role of BBM

BBM used to be BlackBerry’s primary differentiator and its biggest draw for sales and customers. If you had a lot of friends using BBM, then you might as well get a BlackBerry phone to join in on the fun and take advantage of the internet-based messaging service. However, with the boom of other internet-based messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, and Kik, or even iMessage for iOS, people on other platforms, and even across platforms, could enjoy something like BBM without having to tie themselves up to phones they might not want or to a service they’d have to pay extra for.

The new Blackberry messenger is available on non-Blackberry platforms and will feature the core functions of the messenger for Blackberry including messaging and group chat. However, iOS and Android users should expect features such as screen share and VoIP to appear sometime in the near future (i.e. similar to RingCentral, Skype, and other VoIP providers). It is a fact that nothing less than full functionality will draw users away from the more established services already present on Android and iOS devices, although the appeal of being able to interact with existing BBM users could be an attractive draw for the product.

The truth is that BBM used to be what BlackBerry is all about. The focus was clear, and the product thrived for a long time because of the messenger. This new Blackberry Messenger isn’t quite as exclusive as the old one because it’s intended for everyone, and thus, it becomes less exclusive and less iconic. One thing is clear, Blackberry has its work cut out for it.

Adjusting to the Market

BlackBerry swears that the new release of Blackberry Messenger for iOS and Android is a ‘statement of confidence’ on its part, according to CEO Thorsten Heins. The company asserts that its prized messenger can become independent of the BlackBerry 10 platform because people will use it. Some see the move as desperation, after all, why would a company give up one of the strongest aspects of its platform and perhaps the only thing that makes people consider getting a BlackBerry phone?

For all intents and purposes, BlackBerry has arrived late to the party. iOS users already have iMessage, and most Android users tend to use WhatsApp, Viber, or other service. Not only was BlackBerry late in adapting to the current wave of OS and platform driven smartphones, it was late in adapting BBM to fit the needs of the new, ever-changing and connected market. This move is as much a buzzer-beating effort to keep BBM relevant in the face of the competition as it is a maneuver to promote the brand and integrate the service across other mobile platforms.

Blackberry messenger

Better Late than Never

BlackBerry is counting on the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone and the BlackBerry 10 OS to revitalize its sales figures and keep it relevant in today’s rapidly evolving tech world. It is a much-overdue effort from the company formerly known as RIM, but the Z10 does look promising, although sales reports are pending. Converting BBM is also another late play for a market already swimming with alternatives, but BlackBerry brings brand recognition and a 60-million-strong user base into the equation which could work in their favor.

As Star Trek’s Spock would say, there is no other logical alternative. This is certainly the right direction for a struggling company, although it should expect to struggle once more considering its delayed arrival. Most people already have their messaging app or service of choice, and at this point, Android or iOS users don’t know enough about BBM or the functions it brings to the table to be enticed by it. That said, we will have to wait and see how BlackBerry approaches this new cross-platform implementation of BBM before handing out the final verdict.

As a special note for iPad users, the first edition of the Blackberry Messenger for iOS will not be optimized for iPad.