Users will be able to use their current BlackBerry IDs to login to BBMe, but will have to set up new accounts and passwords, meaning their current conversations, texts, stickers etc will not be transferred. (AFP)

One of the first instant messaging applications, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), is going to shut down on May 31. On April 18, Emtek, the company that has run BBM since 2016, announced the closure of the consumer version of the app. The company cited dwindling number of users as the reason for the closure.

However, BlackBerry followed up that announcement by offering the enterprise version (BBMe) of the software to consumers. “While we respect Emtek’s decision, we’re disappointed the platform did not thrive and grow as expected,” said Mark Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer, BlackBerry, said in a statement. “After much consideration, we decided that BBM’s loyal users should continue to have a secure messaging platform that they can trust,” he added.

What users need to know

The BBM Enterprise app is already available on Google Play and Apple App Store. It also works on Windows and MacOS operating systems. The company is offering a free trial for a year, following which users will be charged $2.49 every six months to subscribe to the platform.

Users will be able to use their current BlackBerry IDs to login to BBMe, but will have to set up new accounts and passwords, meaning their current conversations, texts, stickers etc will not be transferred. So, downloading your photos, videos and files is recommended.

BBM is also going to offer refunds for Stickers, though BBMojis are not being refunded. The refunds will be in the form of “reward balance” and have to be redeemed before May 20.

“Your existing rewards need to be redeemed by 20th May 2019, or your accumulated points will be forfeited with on the BBM service shut down date of 31 May, 2019,” says a FAQ post on BBM’s help page.

As with most of its products, BlackBerry’s primary hook for the BBMe platform is that it offers the company’s tried-and-tested security features. The app also allows group chats, voice and video calling, and the ability to edit, withdraw or set expiry times on their messages. Both the sender and recipient are given unique public/private encryption and signing keys.

The demise

BlackBerry Messenger was first introduced in 2005 and was one of the primary reasons people bought BlackBerry’s phones. The platform has been popular amongst enterprise and consumer users alike in the past. However, the emergence of simpler and more accessible platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and even Apple’s iMessage made it challenging for BBM to keep up.

In addition, fall in sales of BlackBerry phones and the rise of Android and iOS smartphones quickly reduced the number of users for BBM. The company brought BBM to other platforms in 2013, but some argue that it was too late by then. It’s unclear how many active users BBM’s consumer version has at the moment, but it’s safe to assume that there are much fewer people using BBM than rival platforms.

Reports suggests that BBM had 190 million users in 2015. By comparison, WhatsApp already had 900 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the same year, according to Statista.com WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat have 1.6 billion, 1.3 billion and 1.098 billion monthly active users (MAUs) as of April 2019, according to the Statista.com.

[“source=livemint”]