Written off by pundits and the markets, barely a day goes by without a fresh requiem for RIM. A recent example comes from Jean-Louis Gassee in Saving Private RIM. It’s a good analysis - you never get anything less from Gassee - but astonishingly BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) barely gets a mention. Of all RIM’s assets, the value of …
Not just London but could be an urban thing, I know it's popular with Glasgow teens.
Out here in the sticks
Our crime rate is near zero, but last week a girl was mugged for her BlackBerry. By a young criminal sufficiently stupid not to realise that contacting her over BBM to lure her to a suitable location meant that there is a message trail, and BIS servers are not as secure as BES. The police know who he is.
In New York I understand it is iPhones that are stolen to order. Here, BlackBerries.
About 6 months ago my 10 year old daughter persuaded me to let her buy a 2nd hand Curve off ebay as 'everyone in her class' had a BB and it was how they were going to stay in touch once they moved on to their different secondary schools.
When I noticed her PAYG credit plummeting I asked her why she was sending so many SMS/MMS if all her friends were on BBM, at which point it transpired that only 2 of her class actually had BBs. Whether it was a conspiracy or not I don't know, but by the end of term nearly half the class had BBs, presumably their parents being as gullible as me. And obviously now half the class have them, there's even more momentum for the rest to follow.
Not just the kids...
I'm reliably informed that Lawyers and Bankers quite like BBM communication too, it's private, secure and very handy for the sort of conversations that shouldn't be held on corporate email servers.
Re: Not just the kids...
Wonder why the kids love it then?
So, you could say, being seen with iPhone means you have nothing important or private to say. If you did, you'd be using the BB for its secure comms.
Re: Not just the kids...
"Wonder why the kids love it then?"
Because the neat way RIM do push notifications makes it very cheap on data and the battery lasts longer. All good things if you're paying for it out of your pocket money and are stuck in school all day with no access to a mains socket for charging.
WhatsApp on BB was a massive mistake
RIM should've banned the WA app. I've seen a lot of hardcore BB users who've gradually got used to WA, until they're happy to just use WA on any platform. RIM should never have given them the option.
I am assured by parents of teenagers with the BBM bug that the key issue is exactly what the rest of us don't get. Because it's a closed platform, and most of us grownups want interoperability, we are not on BBM. Therefore everything the kids share on BBM is shared only with their mates, and not with their parents. Contrast with Facebook - of course all the BBM kids are also on FB, but they (mostly) aren't allowed to lock their parents out of their FB accounts.
That's why in this case a platform locked to a specific device WILL survive, as long as the grownups keep refusing to buy the devices for themselves while allowing their kids to have them. Of course the teens will move on to more open systems as they grow up and have less to hide, but by then there will already be another generation of teens with secrecy requirements, so the model is sustainable. It can never take over the world, but it does have a revenue-generating USP, which is what matters.
Re: The point
So the point is that t' yout' don't care about privacy and share everything but then complain when people they don't want to see their messages see their messages. Instead of fixing their privacy settings they use an entirely separate platform which doesn't have the people they don't want to see their messages signed up to. If that's the case then BBM's stuck at the bottom of the market.
I'd argue that older people are more generally more clued up over privacy, after learning from their and other's mistakes. Constant on-line messaging also tends to lose its importance, there are other things to do.
Also I'd say that an open system doesn't mean there's no privacy, it means there's a certain amount of interoperability with other systems and users have control over and can export the data.
BBM is also popular with teens in the U.S, I used to love having constant communication with my friends through BBM. We all migrated to Android last year though. I'd seriously consider a BB with OS 10 when my Desire HD contract runs out.
The problem with teenagers is fashion
While BBM was the fashionable means of communication five years ago, it's matured through mainstream and is approaching tired. Facebook messaging on a smartphone gives you the same access to your mates and reaches them if they are on their PC as well as their phone.
I've watched my older teenager give up a Blackberry to go Android, the younger one never took up a Blackberry so doesn't feel as though he's lost anything. The BBM for teens asset is one RIM is gradually losing, it's certainly not something with a future.
Re: The problem with teenagers is fashion
Yep, it's dying, and the user base is tipping towards less desirable socio-economic segment, who are less well informed or have less access to good-quality information.
I hesitate to be as blunt as a colleague was recently, when offered a Blackberry- she asked "do I look like a teenage ho from Peckham?" but the implication is there, and the perception is growing in an insidious way.
As kids from economically desirable and lucrative middle class families grow out of this platform, the next wave of siblings are increasingly influenced by the lure of superior hardware and platforms offered by Android and iOS- not only do they support messaging but decent games and other popular apps.
BBM certainly used to be a killer app, but that orthodoxy looks increasingly out of date.
Great piece apart form the (invariably white) bit. Doesnt matter
In the US
In my (probably limited) experience in the US, the only people that *do* have Blackberry devices are middle-aged men since that's what the corporate IT dept issues for work stuff. Everyone else has Android or iPhone devices.
I've heard my corporate IT dept is investigating sandboxed Android Apps for corporate email. No cut and paste in or out of the app so there's no data leakage to the unsecured portion of the phone.
BBM is fine if you know anyone who still uses a Blackberry. I've watched an entire office of dedicated Blackberry users switch to iPhone and Android. BBM obviously wasn't critical to them. No one is going to stick with BB7 due to BBM when they have other ways to communicate, not the least of which is text, and who's really waiting around for the first quarter of 2013 for BBM 10? I think RIM is getting desperate. The proof? Previously, Heins was unwilling to consider licensing BB10 but now he's mentioned considering it in an interview with Bloomberg. But again, who's going to sign a licensing deal now for an OS that won't show up until first quarter of 2013 when they can sell Android and Windows Phone 8's this year in time for Christmas shopping?
I dont see what the fuss is about
Its just an instant messenger and not even a free one! People like sheep have gone with bbm just because their friends are on it, without realising that there are multi platform equivalents available. But with all your pals chatting away, who is going to go out in the cold and leave first for an android or iphone?
BBM must be a UK thing. No one in the states (that I know of) use BB for anything other than Business E-mail. And most of those businesses are looking to ditch the device for iOS or Android.
No, a lot of would-be thug life types like it too- they like the shiny, and it allows them to "keep it real" as it works with little or no understanding of how to use tech. Lots of US inner city kids use them.
Do you know any teenagers? They won't be using business email but they might be using BBM. Or it could be a UK thing and that is why US based pundits don't mention it.
Must be a different city. I work downtown, and all I see every day are iphones.
To be fair, Mr. Sage, you sound more "King Of The Hill" than "The Wire", though :)
Dangit Bobby, if you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!
What happens to BBM if - or more likely when - RIM goes bust and no one is running those nice centralised servers?
Re: Straight question
You lose push notifications and apps either wait forever for something that'll never get there or hammer the battery with a constant data connection like other OSes.
(Try connecting a BB via wifi in an area without network coverage.)
Re: Straight question
".....RIM goes bust....." Well, that would happen if RIM kept failing in the consumer market, but they always have that safe area of the business market to fall back on which would still fund those centralised servers with profits to spare. There is still no real competitor to BES for Windows/Office/Outlook clients, despite M$'s best efforts, and definitely nothing from Apple that even comes close. RIM's real mistake was letting their investors talk them into thinking they had to compete with Apple in the consumer market when what they should be doing is concentrating on those business BES customers and treating the consumer market as a nice sideline.
They need a paradigm shift
I actually have 2 phones that I have carried around for a couple of years, a blackberry from work and an iPhone which I bought with my own funds. I must admit that I am far outside of the teenage user base of BBM but I have to adit that it is a highly functional platform for communication - if RIM opened it up on other platforms, I would gladly pay to use it each month on my iPhone. So far the alternative applications like WhatsUp (sp) and the other clones don't measure up. I think that RIM sort of understands that BBM is their crown jewel but, they just cannot thi their way through separating the service(s) from the hardware - the issue is that for years they defined their customers as the carriers, not the end users, hence the failure to adjust to the various consumer driven shifts in the market. They will make an interesting case study one day - hopefully they get their act together with the net incarnation of their operating system and stop making silly decisions like shipping a tablet without email support. They need to take a hard look at their various services and carve them up strategically for a post blackberry world.
Re: They need a paradigm shift
The only reason BBM works well is because of certain specific things in BlackBerry hardware and the OS (push, their security model, etc). Take those away (e.g move BBM over to Android) and you'd end up with something as rubbish as WhatsUp.
Re: They need a paradigm shift
You keep making the same post over and over. Can you please explain yourself for those of us who have not used RIM devices?
What makes the RIM security model any better than anything else? Same with push?
I enabled push notifications on my iPhone ~2 years ago and it did result in a small but noticeable drop in battery life--presumably to stay connected to the data network. I don't understand how that "tax" could be avoided. And after paying the tax it seems to work very well. I get reliable and immediate notifications when I have new WhatsApp messages.
Re: They need a paradigm shift
Operators install BB server software which sends SMS messages to the phones. The phones don't have any data connection active unless they receive a a message which tells them to fire up it up and download something. As an SMS message is part of the GSM control signal it means there's no battery overhead. As BB is a closed system I suppose the message itself is non-standard.
Other phones have a pale imitation with a constant TCP/IP data connection for instant messages or e-mails (e.g. ActiveSync, IMAP IDLE) and keep alive signals every 5/10/15/30 minutes. Nokias and iPhones can also use their manufacturer's centralised notification server which works in the same way where apps can register to receive notifications and the connection to the manufacturer's server is optimised to conserve battery life.
Nokias also have support for WAP Push e-mail notifications which are a standard but you'd be hard pressed to find an operator that supports them, even your get an e-mail account from your own operator. You could try a third party provider which polls IMAP/POP3 accounts on your phone's behalf and sends the notification message when there's new mail (e.g. T-Mobile Check E-Mail or MoMail).
AFAIK iPhone and Android only support WAP Push MMS notifications.
RE: Dan 55 Re: They need a paradigm shift
Plus, BB has designed the service from the ground up as a secure system for business use. All communication involved - from the email server to the BES server and out to the BB client is encrypted, all working out of the box with M$ Office apps like Outlook, Excel and Word. What BB did was use the same back end for consumer (BIS) customers, giving them an encrypted email and messaging system with an alternative web front-end. By comparison, WinPhone, Android and iPhone are all insecure and require much tweaking and work to get to a similar level of secureness.
more like the writer missed the point
the analogy with Porsche might have more of a point if Porsche had a clear market share lead in the auto industry and were losing it hand over fist to others, as BB are now doing.
maybe thats why they are being written off by experts? Surely if BBM was such a big asset, the market share would be going up?
Probably only a big deal in places without unlimited SMS
I don't see this among teens here in the US (midwest) But unlimited texting plans are a no brainer for teenagers, and available everywhere in the US.
Still don't see what the big deal is with this versus Google Talk and iMessage. Maybe you can do more with BBM and it's slicker, but the downside is that you have to use a Blackberry! Pretty big downside when they are so far behind iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone in everything else.
My girlfriend had a Blackberry and used to use BBM with some of her friends who also had them (helping her stay under her 1000 texts a month plan) but as her friends dumped their Blackberries she had to text them anyway so when she got an iPhone last fall she didn't miss the old phone one bit.
Calling BBM a "social network" that rivals Twitter is ludicrous. By that definition SMS is the largest social network in the world! BBM is tied to a single platform that's bleeding market share, and there are two (possibly three, if Windows Phone gains any traction) larger platforms that can replicate BBM functionality quite easily, and likely improve on it. The idea that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft don't have the technical wherewithall to compete with the mighty RIM in providing this sort of service that's really just a polished version of mid 90s IM software is ridiculous.
Companies can't see far enough ahead towork with each other.
So BBM won't end up on iOS or Android and on Blackberry it will die.
Sad but execs are given bonusses for market share and profiut this quarter/year, not next year.
Perhaps it's a UK thing? UK teenagers love BBM, American ones (where all the dull people telling us about the state of the industry they don't understand live) aren't so hot on it I think.
UK only, or US/rest-of-world too?
I freely admit to cluelessness, but I don't see kids in the U.S.A. craving Blackberry for its social media. Is this peculiar to the UK, or is this a wider-spread phenomenon?
BBM just for the young?
I'm approaching the big 40 not 14 and I use BBM (as do my friends) and it's only £3.33 a month from T-mobile if you PAYG for 6 months in advance. I haven't found an unlimited SMS package for that price anywhere else, and BBM rocks!
Where is the USP that can't be easily repeated on any platform?
Poor analysis. Even my teenage son would rather have an iPhone and he lives in BBM. Ever heard of whatsapp or any other of the millions of free chat programs? Jesus. Believe me teenagers don't care what the plaform is, as long as their friends have it, and it's free. That's not really what I'd call a huge technological advantage for RIM.
Workaround for an obsolete problem?
BBM gave a way to text your friends for free regardless of the network they were on - which was a great asset for cash-strapped teens who had to pay for (cross-network) texts. That didn't happen in the US, and doesn't seem to be the case here any more (plenty of unlimited text plans available cheaply) - end of USP.
As for "security" - an SMS is encrypted when transferred over-the-air, locked to a specific device (the SIM card and whatever handset it's mounted in at the time) - anyone who actually needs more security than that won't be allowed to use any retail handset for it anyway: they'll get something with actual security, like the Sectera Edge they're thought to have issued Obama with for SIPRnet access. If you aren't using SIPRnet or equivalent, iPhones and Androids are just fine.
So, what does BBM really offer that an unlimited SMS plan doesn't? Not "security" in any sane sense, not price when it's a few pounds a month for unlimited texts, not ubiquity (anyone BBM can reach, a text can). That's why it's so polarised: some communities - individual schools and groups within a school - ALL have BBs, so they can use BBM - everywhere else, you have to use something else anyway. If even one member of your group can't/won't get a BB device, you have to choose between using BBM for the rest of the group and excluding that one, or using something that works for everyone. Except for teenage girls, that's an easy choice.
There's still the group functionality - much more convenient for organising riots that way - and SMSs do seem quite limited for that (yes, I can send an SMS to 10 people - but it'll take a second or two for each). Enough to keep RIM afloat? I very much doubt it.
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