BBM Shutting Down - The End of An Era
A month ago, a surprising (yet unsurprising) news arrived in my Google News: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is shutting down on May 31st, 2019. That brought me immediately into a nostalgic mood. BBM was the first mobile messenger I've ever tried, and it even brought me the first experience of using a smartphone, which then turns me into a technology enthusiast like today. So yes, I had a bit of history with BBM.
Today, I think I'm going to pay a tribute to BBM by telling what I know about what used to be the only mobile messenger.
What Made Me Use BlackBerry MessengerWhen I was in high school (probably around 2009), Indonesia was hit with BlackBerry fever. The brand suddenly skyrocketed and everybody had one. Even those who hadn't a single interest in the platform was forced to use it, because everybody used BBM at the time. Even until some time after Android and iOS have hit the market, many people still clung to BlackBerry.
|BBM was easy to use. Even senior people can pick it up quickly.|
|Later version of BBM adds free voice calling, while maintaining the simplicity of the platform.|
Then... There's WhatsAppIn around 2010-2011, if I remember correctly, a new messenger gained traction: WhatsApp. The new messenger was available on every platform then, even Symbian and BBOS. The messenger promised no ads, though there's insignificant fee of $1 per year, and offered an easy way to register: phone number. WhatsApp will automatically scan your contacts for WhatsApp account. You no longer had to export/import contacts or remember someone's PIN. Just save their number into your contact, and you're golden.
|WhatsApp was the beginning of the end for BBM.|
Rise of Messengers and Mobile OSes
|Android was growing rapidly, while iOS kept receiving modest updates while maintaining the platform's stability.|
|Two BlackBerry phones with OS 7.|
Fighting A Losing WarIn 2013, along with their new, modern mobile OS, the BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry announced that BBM will finally available on its biggest competitors: Android and iOS.
|BBM was available to iOS and Android in 2013. Too little too late?|
BlackBerry OS before BlackBerry 10 was still as slow and seemed like dinosaurs compared to their more modern counterparts. Maybe BlackBerry felt that if they didn't expand, they would lose completely. This could be their last attempt at saving their business.
Beginning of The EndIn 2016, Emtek Group, an Indonesia-based company, acquired the licensing rights to use and develop BBM. Basically, they acquired the APIs and would continue the development of BBM. Meanwhile, BlackBerry still actively maintains BBM Enterprise (or BBMe), which targets enterprise users and a paid service.
|Emtek acquired licensing rights for BBM Personal in 2016.|
However, unfortunately, it was already too late to save BBM. It already lost traction compared to other messengers like WhatsApp (which has gone free), Telegram, and LINE. Most people I know ditched BBM for at least one of those. Only older people use BBM now, and probably those who have been selling online since the early days of BBM.
On April 18, 2019, Emtek announced that they would discontinue the BBM service on May 31, 2019. The reason in their blog post is quite clear: The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.
|BBM will be replaced by BBM Enterprise, still maintained by BlackBerry themselves.|
Conclusion: A Farewell To BBM
|Goodbye BBM. Though you're no longer with us, you will always be remembered|
as the pioneer of mobile messaging platform.
But when I realized that I fell in love with Android (I still am), I had to ditch BBM. If only BlackBerry wasn't late to open up their platform and innovate, I don't think it would end this way.
So, I have these mixed feelings with the BBM's shutdown. At one point, I'm sad because I'll be losing an old friend, but on the other hand, I know that I had to move on. BBM was losing traction (especially in the consumer space) and business is business; if it isn't profitable, there's no use keeping it around, right?
Well, unless BlackBerry goes crazy and open-sourced the application, which I highly doubt. That might save BBM. Might.
Okay, so I guess that's all for now, Folks. Sorry if this article is a bit long, because I'm having this nostalgic feeling of BBM. In fact, I'm planning for a follow-up article about BlackBerry hardware. Stay tuned. Oh, and feel free to discuss this article in the comments section below. The facts may not be accurate, as I stopped using BBM 5-6 years ago and have not been paying attention to its development. Finally, as usual, thanks for reading and I look forward to your next visit.
Have a nice day! :D