BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will be put out of its misery today, finally closing down, following its failure to retain users while being unable to attract new ones.
The few users that still utilise the service will be required to download old messages, photos, videos and other files sent in conversation if they wish to preserve them, as the closure of BBM will render servers inactive. Unfortunately, purchased stickers and customised emojis won’t be available for download.
Back in April, Emtek announced that the service would be closing stating that “users have moved on to other platforms” and that it was difficult to get new users to join the service.
“Since 2016 we have tried our best to compete in this market and launch many new features and content that we had hoped would grow the BBM user base,”
“Despite all of our efforts, we found that the network effect of the market leaders is getting stronger and we have been squeezed out of user preferences.”
Launched in 2005, BBM grew quickly to become the world’s most popular phone-to-phone messaging service, in the early days of smartphones. Like a lot of services/apps that BlackBerry (nee RIM) produced it was ahead of it’s time, but was left behind as other services appeared.
BlackBerry’s refusal to unbundle it from its own phones and take it cross-platform held it back and it was quickly eclipsed by services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal and many, many others.
As BlackBerry smartphone users moved in droves to Apple and Android smartphones, the BBM user-base simultaneously began to dwindle. By the time time the company decided to open it up to Android and iOS users in 2013, and then licensed the consumer BBM to Emtek three years later, it was far too late – a familiar BlackBerry tale.
To be honest, Emtek threw everything at BBM, probably too much, but none of the gimmicks could save BBM as its users continued to flee to other platforms. BBM tried stickers, ephemeral messages, music, BBMoji and a plethora of stuff that you either loved or hated.
However, it was so far removed from what BBM was it became unrecognisable. One thing remained constant though, user numbers kept reducing.
BlackBerry, stated that it is “disappointed the platform did not thrive and grow as expected,” but respects Emtek’s decision to pull the plug.
In an effort to continue providing the small amount of remaining users with a “secure messaging platform that they trust, the company made its business version BBMe available to consumers.
The service will be free to new users for the first year, but after that BBM diehards will have to cough up $2.50 for a six-month subscription. That may not sound a lot but when other messaging services offer a whole lot more for free, and a massive user-base to interact with, it is hard to see BBMe flourishing.
BBM services may have closed down today for good but in reality, the real BBM for consumers died several years ago.