Blackberry promised BBM on Android on 2013-09-21, but hasn’t delivered. In turn, a slew of malware fakes have appeared in the Google Play Store. Blackberry claims the reason why it didn’t put the app in the Play Store was because an version that wasn’t ready was unleaked to the public, and they are making some improvements on the IM client. Meanwhile, a select number of iOS users (mostly in the east) have been able to receive it.
This to me raises a lot of serious issues for regards to Blackberry. Now, I have a sentimental fondness for Blackberry. My first smart phone was a Blackberry 8320, and while I had never really got to use BBM, I did like the concept with a couple of flaws such as the PIN (Personal ID Number) was hard coded into the device which meant if you changed your device, your PIN changes too. It would seem as if Blackberry has eliminated that flaw, and made it user credential based.
So up until this year, if you wanted the features of Blackberry Messenger, you had to get a Blackberry. However, with RIM device sales falling fast in the wake of Android and iOS, the once superior device manufacturer is seen as a dinosaur. You do have some die hard fans, and that is fine, but it will seem as if Blackberry is going to do best as a software company. Much of the BES systems integration can be done with an Android device through apps, and I am sure the same applies to iOS. And the fact there were a page full of potential maleware clones of BBM within hours of the non-release of BBM for Android tells, at least from a developer viewpoint, there is a demand for BBM, and with good reason.
First, despite the popularity of programs like WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, not everyone wants to use it. I know, I regularly had to jump through hoops with WhatsApp to set up with my Google Voice account. I don’t give my cellular number to anyone, and everyone has my Google Voice number which is good enough. Personally, I don’t use Facebook as I have found the company to be anti-consumer, and the site in itself – at least with my experience, a waste of time. BBM for other OSes will help Blackberry with the simple fact, it will offer a means of relevancy. If there are enough BBM users getting other people to use BBM, then this keeps Blackberry relevant. I don’t see people leaving Android, nor iOS for Blackberry, but that is another issue.
In addition, with most of these SMS replacement apps, you either have to provide your telephone number (cellular), or you get a new number that everyone has to deal with. With BBM, neither of these applies. A unique Hexadecimal (0-F) number is assigned out, and people send messages through that ID system. Eventually, Wifi Calling can also be provided.
BBM is also secured. A number of times governments have demanded that Blackberry unencrypt their server information, and Blackberry claimed it couldn’t be done. For those in the world where security and privacy is fading away, even in democratic free countries, a secured messaging system might be something that people will want.
BBM is also interactive. A sender can see that the message is sent, and whether it has been opened or not. One can even see when one is typing which are all things that SMS/MMS can not do. On top of that, BBM as with any IM service is globally agnostic which means no international fees.
However, the promise of Blackberry on Android and iOS now seems to be a failed one. Hopefully, Blackberry will release BBM for other platforms, but for now – it seems to only remain mostly in the real of Blackberry devices.
This will not address the issues of BBM bleeding money though. Again, while they can focus their attention on hardware, my feelings will be to focus on software. If they wish to continue with hardware, then maybe move to Android OS (skinned to function like Blackberry). This will solve the app availability issue. It will also relieve them of developing a mobile OS to focus on Server OS that will work with the Blackberry EcoSystem. Charging a $10-$25 annual fee for non Blackberry devices would also make sense. A person can choose an Android Powered Blackberry device and have free access to all of their public services (such as BBM), or download a free app, and pay an annual fee. I feel this will only work if they moved to the Android OS. Obviously, they will want to make a commitment to their customers on updating the OS, and maybe keep it out of the carrier’s hands for updates.
But for now, maybe Blackberry should get BBM to Android and iOS, and try to find ways to get people to use the service. As for addressing the possible malware problem with BBM on the Play Store, simply go to https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=BlackBerry+Limited If you see BBM, then it is the official version. The BES client is not BBM however.