CrackBerry Live: Interview with the inventor of BBM, Gary Klassen!

By Kevin Michaluk on 14 May 2013 07:28 pm EDT

On the day when BlackBerry announced that BBM is going cross platform to support both iOS and Android, we had the lucky opportunity to sit down with Gary Klassen.

If you're not familiar with Gary Klassen, you should read this article we posted back in 2011, where we gave Gary the CrackBerry salute for being the Inventor of BlackBerry Messenger. That's right, Gary literally wrote version 1.0 of BBM. We owe a lot to him! Then be sure to hit up the video above as we discuss today's BBM news with Gary. 

Reader comments

CrackBerry Live: Interview with the inventor of BBM, Gary Klassen!


I love the enthusiasm that blackberry 10 creates. It's just outstanding to have these people working to make this platform even greater. Keep on keeping on!

So Kevin, you said it yourself... "BlackBerry Messenger is the must-have application that attracts people to buying a BlackBerry Smartphone and keeps them from switching to another platform when it comes time to upgrade. " - from the Gary Klassen link above..

So now please tell me why having multiplatform BBM will benefit BlackBerry, other than the BB reputation...

Who is going to buy a Z10, when they can get an iPhone and STILL have BBM? Surely they're driving customers away??

Then... The app will be FREE?! I pay for my BBM, wth?

Please answer my question :D tell me why this is a good decision for BlackBerry??

I told my current iPhone friends and they all said that they don't care, they've got What'sApp, Skype nd SnapChat! They're not even bothered about BBM on multiplatform... AND, some don't even want it!

You answered your own question. If you listen to the interview they went on to discuss how difficult it is to describe the bbm experience and why it is better. They are betting on non bb ppl trying it, falling in love with and using only bbm. Eventually they may want a full bb experience and convert, if not they still kill off the newcomers who have flourished on multiple OS with less features and bigger price.

BBM is much better than any other messenger, now you don't have to own a blackberry to find out how much better it truly is. After you see how much better bbm is, you may just want the Full BB10 experience and switch.

I'm sure more people switched from bb because apps like what's App existing. Kill those types of apps, control the IM crowd like Google controls the maps and best search...

Bingo, you hit the jackpot. Its all about open and cross platform design. The walled garden approach to mobile is dying.

As to employing three subpar and non integrated Apps as your solution to BBM, all I can say is good luck with that. BB has hit the nail on the head, its both marketing and business genius.

i tweet #HailTheKing to @gehr for his creation of bbm.. it definitely united our business and group.

If this guy hadn't invented BBM, my business today wouldn't be able to function anywhere near as well as it does today. THANK YOU.!!!

Posted via CB10

How many CEO's or Tech heads do you see that are that passionate about what they do like him, honestly I havent seen anyone enjoy what they do so as much as him and for it to show in such a short interview. Its people like that I like to take time out of my day and listen to. Another person would be Waz (apple founder).

You need to think big. Blackberry can make more money in software and services then hardware sales. Nobody is buying blackberries for BBM, so its time to leverage it to get blackberry products recognized again worldwide.

Not sure if this is true in places like Africa and Indonesia where BBM is pretty much THE must-have application for the youth (its free and everyone has it). Allow cross-platform and now they have much less incentive to stick to BB.

Maybe. I don't live in one of these countries where BBM is selling the device. But blackberry wouldn't do this if the money they were making on those people were a threat to the company. I think it's safe to say they are leveraging bbm for a higher profit market

Hope you're right man, but I bet out of the 70 mil subscribers, may be 2/3 of them are from Africa and Indonesia. Seems likes a desperate move imo. hope im wrong though...

Even more reasons to allow cross platform use of BBM. I have seen a disconnect created between wealthy smartphone users (whatsapp and imessage on iPhones and SG3s) and others that only have access to BBM. Now BlackBerry gets back top of mind in iOS and Android users and your BBM network grows. BlackBerry 10 sells because it's the best OS out there not for BBM, there's whatsapp for that.

Posted via CB10

True, but sales in Africa and Indonesia are dominated by BB7, which are selling at cost or at a loss, and where the monthly service charges are a lot lower than they are in N. America and Europe. Even in several BB strongholds around the world, serious inroads are being made by inexorably cheaper, low-margin smartphones by the Chinese and Koreans, and BBM is under serious attack from a host of very cheap cross-platform messaging services. BBM served its purpose during the last 3 transition years, holding the fort until BB10 arrived. This "glasnost", or the breaking of the BBM Wall, is a bold, exciting move.

Basic bbm will be downloaded by millions. Then when they are all hooked/re-hooked....they can pay to upgrade to bbm video etc.

Posted via CB10

Unreal! I am blown away that BBM is going to Android and Apple and i'm sure Gary probably would've of never have perceived how many lives he has engaged with his vision years ago. Go BlackBerry

BBM is the only reason i bought a z10 over any other device and the os ofcourse and the fact that im a die hard blackberry user but cross platform bbm how is this going to make blackberry any more profitable

Love Gary's genuine enthusiasm. Really great to see. You can tell he really cares about the platform and loves what he does.

CB10- BlackBerry Z10

Making BBM available to other platforms is a very smart idea actually. Now with all the cross platform messengers there's no leverage for BBM. With bbm channels this could be a new hit. Especially for brands to use.

Posted via CB10

I saw an interview with Gary a while ago, by some third party tech person. During that interview a while ago, Gary seemed pretty quiet and reserved. This time, his enthusiasm is shining brightly and he seems truly uplifted by BlackBerry 10. Amazing man he is! Thanks Mr. Klassen for making BBM. I honestly believe BBM is one component of BlackBerry that is EXTREMELY important to the entire platform. In fact, I believe BBM to be one of the main reasons many people stuck with BlackBerry over the troubled times.

Posted via CB10

I'm a BlackBerry fanboi, will readily admit it, and cannot understand the near venomous attitudes I've been reading on here all day regarding BBM going cross platform. BlackBerry is pulling out all the stops to monetize, build eyeball acquisition apps and hardware, and regain lost ground. Only closed and shortsighted minds could have a problem with that.

Posted via CB10

Switching over to iPhone. I bought a BB because of its identity which is the BBM. Now if its available on iOS, then there's no reason for me to stick with BB. RIP BlackBerry. Will enjoy BBM using my iPhone.

Posted via CB10

You joined to tell us this? Enjoy being reminded everyday where the real innovation is coming from. You clearly have no clue what BBs true identity is. Enjoy your iPhone.

This is what blackberry is trying to get rid off, the notion that it is just BBM. BlackBerry is building an entire brand.

Posted via CB10

Gary is awesome! He's like a superhero. I love how he just got up and left at the end of the interview. Superheroes don't say bye! LOL

If you love something set it free, if it loves you it will come back. Or something like that. RIM had to make this move, or get lost in the 60 million user ghetto they are in. Now they can monetize 600 million users, assuming it's a success of course!

It would have been hilarious if Google went thru and bought whatsapp for a billion and then BlackBerry announced Bbm was going cross platform.

Posted via CB10

BBM going cross platform will bring in millions and millions of users. Think about the potential for services like bbm payments. BlackBerry is thinking big and this will pay off.

Posted via CB10

BBM going to iOS and Droid , I could care less for iMessage or Whats App , that door is shut, BBM will and is the standard : BBM , Voice , Video , Money heck lets have BBM Audio / Music !!

Gary Klassen seems more and more enthusiastic with each subsequent interview I've seen him in.
He's awesome. To me, he's a geek's rock star.
Thank you Gary.

IMO putting BBM in ios and android would be more beneficiary to BlackBerry because of the enterprise 10. Plus the idea of the BYOD against employees who are using Iphone and android devices. It would be a plus factor to the bb10 user.

Posted via CB10

Now is a great time to expand the reach of BBM! It's like advertising BlackBerry on those other platforms. It also makes sense in business for Mobile Fusion and BES 10. Way to go, BBRY! Share the love!!

BBM going cross platform and as a free down load tells me that Blackberry will get back to # 1 in the smart phone space. May 14th will be remembered as THE big day that succinctly spelled out Blackberry's exciting future.

Invented.... Created maybe.
He copied ICQ, Skype or whatever other IM was being used at the time and made it work on the BlackBerry network...

Tbh this whole cross platform business relies on a certain fruit company we won't name agreeing that BBM can go in the app world. I'm not sure if Google will have a problem with that.

Posted via CB10

This guy is awesome. He gets it. His attention to detail is amazing, I see it in his work. This will be the second golden age of BlackBerry.

through out yesterday Ive been sober, angry and jealous that BBM is going cross platform. but i watched gary's interview and now i feel better. he sounds like a guy who knows what he's doing. Ive got faith in him and kevin too. BBM is number one, and those ios and android users know this thats why they are excited and over joyed to hear this news. well letting them have a taste of blackberry is not bad...infact its brilliant.

Supporting BBM across all mobile platforms may prove to be a stroke of genius... a Trojan horse, of sorts, to a broader BlackBerry strategy to become the premiere go-to option for mobile communication and, eventually, mobile computing.

I think this dovetails well with the emerging BES 10 Mobile Fusion enterprise strategy...

"If it's mobile, it's better with BlackBerry!"

(even if it is not a BlackBerry device).

This is by no means a sure bet, Apple, Google and Microsoft are not sitting idly by waiting, but it makes sense to build on Blackberry's strengths. Thus far BlackBerry has failed to do so with BBM. I know many former BlackBerry users who now use iOS and still talk about how much they lived BBM. But not enough to switch out of the Apple gadget ecosystem. This gets them back to thinking positively about BlackBerry and it should mean new software and services revenue growth for BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

In the world of advertising for a product, you need to give an opportunity for people to use the product that makes you unique. Leverage BBM to that end. This cross platform effort is smart.

Posted via CB10

It shows mature thinking distributing bbm to other different platforms. It's served its time and has done well. What draws you to a phone these days is the speed and convenience of communication as well as the attraction of an OS. 'flow' is catching on brilliantly. Blackberry's direction is not to develop a smartphone but to concentrate on building a mobile computer. The world's a lot bigger than BBM.

Posted via CB10

Wow - do these guys ever sound like Canadians - you can really hear it on any word with the "ou" dipthong (like "about"). Love the enthusiasm, particularly in the discussion of what is becoming possible with the BB 10 platform more generally.

Some thoughts on BBM:

Going cross-platform is the best way to protect and expand BBM and its network of subscribers. For example, imagine a good-sized group of people in a place like Indonesia, all on BBM, but a few people buy low-cost Android phones, start using a competing messaging app, and start working on other people to buy Android phones to stay in touch with them. With cross-platform BBM, there is no need for anyone to buy anything other than BB to stay in touch with people who use Android or iOS. The idea is to prevent defections from turning into stampedes.

Given that the lead development work will be done on BB 10, it's BB users who will have the newest and best first. And BBM will always shine brightest in the BB 10 environment, particularly as apps become more integrated and as they talk to each other while multitasking, and we know that the multitasking is best in BB 10. So you get basic functionality on the other platforms (with an expanded network of subscribers and wider possibilities for monetization) - but you get the newest and best on BB 10, where everything will also work faster.

BB needs to acquire some of these up and coming fun messaging apps to merge with BBM. For example Snap Chat. I don't think the current BBM features will be enough to get any iOS/Android to download the app and actually use it properly. And I predict BBM Channels will be a flop like BBM Music. Just my opinion.

All these analysts and the journalists (and I use those terms in a very loose way) who bash BBRY should try to do what Gary does, and then lets talk. They don't even half the brain of Gary... and when I say they, i mean they as in collectively, those who think Blackberry is worth so little.
BB10, BBM, BES10 are products of great technology... oops I mean greatest mobile tech, now only if BBRY knows how to get the word out and create a buzz around them.