When I was a kid my dad bought me a toy Walkie Talkie set. They were always a blast to play with. The technology seemed so amazing back then.
Fast forward a decade or so and I’d see people in coffee shops or around construction sites. They would be using push to talk (PTT) based on iDEN technology. I’m sure many of you remember Nextel in the US, or the Mike network in Canada, which was bought by Telus.
PTT technology was and still is incredibly useful for people out in the field. It’s all about efficiency. If Joe needs to ask Bob if the electrician has arrived yet, he just asks, almost as if he was standing beside Bob. No need to setup a call and wait for the call to be answered.
In the early days of PPT there was no message persistence. If you weren’t there to hear what was being said you missed it. Too bad. But now that we have high speed WiFi and 4G networks, we’re seeing the emergence of some incredibly feature-rich applications on mobile devices.
Voxer is a great example. It’s available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Unfortunately it is not on the BlackBerry 10 platform yet. I don’t know if it ever will be. I installed it on my iPad recently after seeing friends and business partners starting to use it on their phones. I love that this app saves me time. When I need to ask someone a quick question, I send a quick PTT message. The guy on the other end either gets it right away, in real time, or the message is stored on the recipient’s client until he listens to it. If some back and forth chatter is required, it’s instant.
A look at Voxer on WIndows Phone
PTT is not designed to replace a phone call. It’s suited for quick questions, answers, or relaying of information to get things done ... which brings me to BlackBerry.
One of the most popular communication tools for many BlackBerry users is BBM. This company single-handedly crafted the mobile instant messenger market. When we had slow radios that could hardly load mobile web pages they were still plenty fast for nearly-instant BBM conversations. BBM was built on the idea of instant communication.
So I’d like to add push to talk to my BlackBerry 10 wish list. I think it should be incorporated into BBM. I can see how this feature would bring a lot of value to different types of users. The typical field worker would benefit from it as he or she always has. And with the power of BES 10, it should be possible for an administrator to setup groups and deliver all kinds of advanced PTT features to enterprises directly over BBM. I also see a growing market for mobile entrepreneurs, consultants, or virtual teams who work together but in different locations. PTT is faster and more efficient than pretty much anything else.
With BBM going cross platform, I think it’s going to be important for BlackBerry to keep innovating. WhatsApp has 250 million active users compared to only 60 million BBM users. Many people are suggesting it’s already too late for BBM. Sure, they’ve added channels. That’s awesome. But why stop there?
I think PTT built into BBM, in a cross platform environment, could be the ultimate instant communication tool for all mobile devices. I think it would absolutely rock.
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