back to article OMG: RIM adds VoIP to its stealth social network

As of today teenagers and other BlackBerry users will be able to make free voice calls to each other - if they're on RIM's stealth 'social network in hardware', BBM. RIM announced the news last month, but the updated app is now available in its App World store. Users of version 7 of BBM version 7 will be able to make calls …


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  1. NoneSuch

    They promised iPhone and Android integration almost two years ago for BBM but never produced it. If they had, they might have had a chance to pull RIM out of their nose dive. They didn't so expect a crater any day now.

    Good bye RIM. You did well for a few years, but failure to adapt is causing your extinction.

    1. Bear Features

      and how much revenue would you get from a free app? Nobody would pay as there are free alternatives.

      Keep saying RIM are dead. ;)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, sounds like Google Talk

    but not supporting video chats, and locked to a proprietary platform.

    Clearly RIM haven't learned. Every day, there are 1.5m new Android owners, and your handset isn't talking to them...

    1. durandal

      Re: Hmm, sounds like Google Talk

      The kids who use BBM don't care about android. They want BBM, in part because it's cheaper and more interactive than SMS and doesn't use up their PAYG minutes. Stick a voice component into the proposition, and I can't see it exactly hurting sales.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Hmm, sounds like Google Talk

        Voice BBM,

        I can't see this being free from Telco's, they will have to charge data for it.

        I'm wondering if it would be cheaper, as I've been waiting for data charges to go down to make the use of Skype more desirable on a smartphone.

      2. McBeese

        Re: Hmm, sounds like Google Talk

        How about Apple's iMessage, which provides free text messaging but is also integrated with SMS text messaging so that friends who aren't Apple iPhone users can still be reached using the same app?

        As for OTT VoIP, both iOS and android support all of the world's most popular apps… Like Skype, tango, et cetera.

        Research in motion's closed strategy is going to lead to their demise.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Hmm, sounds like Google Talk

          It's not rocket science putting SMS support into the BBM app if the contact isn't on BBM.

  3. MrTivo

    Searching the web, it appears BBM7 installation is not going smoothly for some users. Once installed, it spins it's wheels trying to register and then fails. Going back to BBM6 appears to do the same. Reviews on BB App World are less than glowing. This seems to affect almost the full spectrum of devices, 8520, 9300, 9730. 9900

    Free calls over WiFi is a nice addition to have, but I can see carriers not being happy, as those who mainly use a BB for email / web, paying £20 for 6 months (T-Mobile ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H EE) aren't going to be topping up to make calls.

    Let's see how this one plays out.

  4. trashbat

    The network operator

    To point out the obvious: the network operator holds the keys to the kingdom, especially right now. The operator can knock BBTM VoIP on the head any time it likes, whereas BBTM can't circumvent the operator because they don't have any infrastructure at the edge. At least, that's how it is for now. It doesn't always work this way - sometimes the product (e.g. first generation iPhone) declares what the customer *will* have, but RIM aren't really in a position to dictate anything these days.

  5. JBJB

    Network vaue add....?

    a licence.

  6. Tom Chiverton 1

    " the value of owning your own network layer."

    Umm. RIM doesn'?. They piggy back on someone else as a VMO don't they ?

  7. Mike Taylor

    Top of my son's christmas present list, I guess they still have something going

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @Mike Taylor

      Top of my son's christmas present list, I guess they still have something going

      Not at all. Your son's savvy, he wants one of the last Blackberry's, and in a few years time it'll pay for his University fees. "Go on Grandad, tell us again how hoodies organised riots with those funny Blackberry things...."

  8. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Still going to come out of your data allowance, like anything else, and if abused will still be clamped down on.

    The problem is not the availability of a technology to talk to people over a data connection. That's been solved myriad times over. It's the problem of who pays for that bandwidth and the real-time delivery of it? Eventually, the answer is: the user. Which will be reflected in the contract prices of plans that allow it.

    1. GavinC

      Data Allowance?

      "it's still going to come out of your data allowance"

      As others have mentioned, VoIP will only work over WiFi.

      However all blackberry users need to pay extra for Blackberry Internet Services, which provides unlimited data for all blackberry services. BBM uses your BIS connection rather than standard data, and if VoIP was to be enabled over the networks, I guess it would too. Also the BBM connection is encrypted I believe, so network operators would be unable to block VoIP if it was enabled (short of blocking all BIS access).

      1. trashbat

        Re: Data Allowance?

        DPI or pattern analysis combined with traffic shaping probably does the job. So does qualified limitation of the offered data allowances, not certifying or not retailing the devices, or indeed blocking BIS altogether. It just depends on the balance of revenue from BIS users in general versus the revenue lost by offering those services (e.g. voice) themselves. That BB VoIP apparently only works over Wi-Fi may (partly) represent such a stance having been taken.

        In that case, the answer to the question of 'what does a mobile network actually offer?' is presumably 'a mobile network'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Data Allowance?

          "In that case, the answer to the question of 'what does a mobile network actually offer?' is presumably 'a mobile network'."

          And a phone on the never never, even if the peasants think it is "free".

  9. b166er

    That's the good thing about being down on your luck, it encourages you to innovate. As opposed to patents, but I digress.

    Presumably the grand plan is to sell BBM on other platforms, otherwise this really won't work out as RIM hope. No-one (what market share does RIM currently have?) will want a voice platform that isn't OS agnostic.

  10. Dave Perry and in the case of EE in Hull...

    ...3 stores within a 5 minute walk of each other - 2 of them are about 20 seconds apart on foot!

  11. James 51 Silver badge

    With home wireless network sounds like a good way to eek out the minutes on your contract.

    1. dmurray1981

      And an even better way to avoid roaming call charges

  12. dmurray1981
    Thumb Up

    No one read the details then?

    BBM VoiP only works overs WiFi connections, not the mobile network (in the UK at least, and as far as my own testing has gone) so mobile operators wont be carrying traffic they could be charging for.

    Install issues? None on my 9900 and 9780

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: No one read the details then?

      And I suppose it'll be encrypted. This might a major selling point if you've got your own corporate BIS and you visit e.g. the Middle East or China.

  13. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Its terrible...

    BB are dead, they just dont know it yet... its sad to watch really.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    The network operator

    "We're left to wonder what value a network operator actually offers: expensive retail units and a billing mechanism, perhaps. Anything else?"

    Lets see Andrew: my network operator serves me, for my money (39 euros), digital tv, telephone and internet, all over fiber. I have free and unlimited access to their wifi hotspots whith a good coverage. They provide me with a voip number, which I can use abroad to call to landline lines in my country, for free. 100MB of data over 3G every month, gratis (enough for me to check the emails if I'm away of a wifi spot), Free phone calls to landlines within Europe and some countrys in the Americas. I think I didnt forgot anything so Andrew, what you were saying about RIM offer? Oh, and like others have pointed already, the network operator own/control the *network* where RIM users hang on...

  15. mhoneywell

    Excellent Naughty by Nature reference

    Well done Andrew. Not quite where I expected such a reference. But i for one was jolly pleased.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Excellent Naughty by Nature reference

      That was the sub, who is far younger and hipper than me.

  16. Lost In Clouds of Data

    Too little, way way WAY too late

    I've only 2 friends left using BB's - and they both use them only because their business supplies them.

    Everyone else has gone either Android or iOS (with a couple who took the Windows plunge, the poor mad fools...)

    Is this meant to be a selling point for new device sales, or a feature for existing users? I can hardly see hoards of alternative fanbois n girlz dropping their current devices and scream out "Ooooh, I must have that feature so I can speak to my one other friend who was stupid enough to buy into the hype and buy a deadphone like mine."

  17. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What could operators do?

    That's obvious, start treating your customers like human beings and not just idiot money suppliers.

    At work we have a few SIM cards from a German resell operator. We need it inside a M2M solution. Therefore we only need GPRS connections to the Internet. (Don't worry, it's nothing anybody would mind failing)

    However we have a few SIM cards from which we cannot initiate any connections to the APN. Mind you it's always the same APN and always the same device, but for some cards it works, for others it doesn't.

    I've tried to explain that to their customer service, but all I got was some excerpt from the manual and a hint that my device which is a Simcom SIM900D (go on Google that) might be SIM locked...

    Another German operator decides it's OK to cancel contracts of customers using IM or VoIP, even going through great lengths of trying to filter it.

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