Bye bye, BBM
The curtains are finally being drawn on the consumer version of BlackBerry Messenger, marking an end to the pioneering phone messaging service that was once extremely popular, particularly among business users. Emtek, the company that runs the service, has announced it will shut down the service from 31 May because users have moved on to other platforms and new users have been difficult to find.
That will come as sad news for BlackBerry loyalists who stuck with its phones and messaging service even as competitors came out with better products. BlackBerry devices until the last decade dominated the smartphone market and were a must-have for top business executives. Its messaging service came as a default on its phones and users were seen as an exclusive group to which non-BlackBerry phone users had no access. The popularity was such that it became a matter of pride to own BlackBerry devices. But the company lost market as newer services such as WeChat and Facebook’s WhatsApp provided better communication services and made them available to all, irrespective of the brand of smartphone users owned. Meanwhile, BlackBerry lost much of its handset business to competitors such as Apple, Samsung and LG whose phones imposed no restrictions on using external apps. With no product launches in the offing, there is little hope BlackBerry will ever see a return to its glorious past. On the contrary, the shutting down of the messaging service could suggest a looming end to whatever little services still remain. To be sure, the enterprise version of the messaging service known as BBMe will continue to be available. Its promise of secure networks may attract some users, but the paid service may be too little to resurrect the popularity of this once-iconic brand that is slowly, but surely, heading into the sunset.