An in-depth look at the features of BlackBerry Messenger vs. iMessage

BlackBerry Messenger vs. iMessage
By Bla1ze on 11 Jun 2011 12:27 am EDT

Yesterday, we gave you all a head to-head look at BlackBerry Messenger vs. iMessage. Where it was meant to be a quick look at things we never really got to show off some of the additional settings and user customizable options for each of the messaging applications instead, we concentrated on just the general functionality of each. Today, we're going to break it down a little bit more and do a comparison of sorts and let you all decide on which you'd rather use.

 Key Features of BlackBerry Messenger:

  • Send and receive messages with unlimited character length. 
  • Choose your own BBM display picture.
  • Get real-time confirmations when messages are delivered and read.
  • Add your contacts by scanning barcodes or sharing PINs.
  • Reveal the music that’s playing on your smartphone.
  • Share photos, videos, location information, contact info, and more with multiple contacts at once or in a group chat.

 Key features of iMessage:

  • Share photos, and videos with multiple contacts at once.
  • Get real-time confirmations when messages are delivered and read.
  • Integrated email and Facetime functions.
After checking out the video highlights and list of features above, go ahead and sound off in the comments about your thoughts and let us know which you would prefer to use more on a daily basis -- BlackBerry Messenger with it's long list of additional features, so long in fact you can't fit them all into one video or is iMessage winning your hearts with its minimal design, easy layout and straight forward approach to getting the message out?

Topics: BBM News & Rumors

Reader comments

An in-depth look at the features of BlackBerry Messenger vs. iMessage


It doesn't have to beat BBM. It just has to have the core experience and make it feel like a seamless part of the interface. Having an equivalent to BBM is enough for some to jump the fence.

you are exactly correct on that one. i just needs to be able to have the core experience of sending and receiving messages without having the pay for sms for it to be "good enough".

on ios, there are always "apps for that" to do all the other things bbm does. don't see why there is even a comparison here. the only question is "does it send and receive in a reliable and timely manner?"

so far it seems to be doing pretty good.

Comparisons with iMessage at this stage are pointless.

iMessage may be terrific when the only people using it are a few folk fortunate to be using iOS5, but what happens when 50 million are using iOS5?

It's an old but true story in information systems that code for high volumes is a completely different story to code for low volumes.

So iMessage may match BBM for speed now, when a few thousand are using it, but will it match BBM when the numbers are in the tens of millions - as with BBM. And bear in mind RIM has a decade of experience in supporting volume messaging.

We won't know until Apple gets there this time next year. In the meantime, you're safer with BBM if messaging is important to you.

It absolutely is the most important application on my BlackBerry.

WTF iphone will not beats Blackberry, let see the battrey of BB will last more than 12 hours with always connected to 3g network, iphone will not last even 4 hours continus to the your dreams apple if you want to beat BB.

Naww, I touched on it in the settings. I don't condone pinging people.. lol. Since 2007 I've yet to see anyone use it in a real word case scenario unless it was just to annoy someone lol.

I do it all the time to my driver every time he doesn't respond quick enough lol

I also send a "ping me babay" request to my wife followed by a "one more time" lol when I wanna let her know I think of her but maybe have nothing new to say :)

Beats "how are you" if you ask me.

see the thing is - this comparison of BBM to iMessenger doesn't matter AT ALL to the random person out there shopping for a new phone. All that person knows is - 'all my friends have iPhones and all I see around me are iPhones and iPhones have all the apps, and....and...' well you get the idea.

This comparison is interesting to us BB loyalists, but no one else really cares. But the quality of the comparison is good, however. Nice job.

Well the main feature in BBM that's keeping me to use BlackBerry is the group chat. Why bother to use iMessage and you all already have Yahoo messenger or MSN or even what's app... it's the same thing...

so iMessage is kind of an old feature that hopes to make some acceptance in the war of smartphones...

imessage is just a spin off and they try they will say that it will revolutionize the smartphone world. and everyone will be in aww and think its the new magical thing that apple came up with.

They already are :(

Do you know how many articles came out this week saying with iMessage comming out BBM & SMS is dead? As if Apple is the only company that matters. With more & more people using smartphones, more & more people have other contact options (bbms, msn, video chat ect). iMessage is just one more option comming to smartphone users, it is not the one thing that will "revolutionize" the industry & kill off SMS!

my only complaint... which has nothing to do with bbm or imessage, but it does have to do with iphone v. bb is that words with friends needs to come to blackberry devices or i might end up getting an iphone on my next contract... :/

Buddy have you tried wordrival ite is way better then word with freinds! I have used both and much prefer wordrival you can play cross platform on wordrival with bb , android and Iphone as well as anyone on facebook you can also play the same game that is on your phone if you wish when you are on facebook and then keep playing later on your phone. Anyway if you like word with freinds so much it is woth trying out word rival

my only complaint... which has nothing to do with bbm or imessage, but it does have to do with iphone v. bb is that words with friends needs to come to blackberry devices or i might end up getting an iphone on my next contract... :/

I'm on the mobbile site for crackberry on my 9780 and the strangest thing is I'm able to play the embeded videos witthout getting redirected to youtube... Was there an update or something that passed right under my feet?

I just tried the full website and it still worked a bbit choppy but it worked. Weird thing is it's not using the youtube player but what looks like it's own built in browser player (similar to the one found in the playbook browser).

Imho both BBM and iMess suck. The whole idea of a messaging service that only works with the friends who are on the same OS as yourself is horrible and outdated. Especially when companies are making cross platform, cross protocol Instant Messaging programs like Trillian are out there.

So I can be on my BlackBerry and talk to someone on their iPhone and use data instead of SMS. I'm just saying.

its stupid highlighting 'can use within sms'. BB can bring sms function within bbm. well, congrats to iPhone users... now you have something to stay away from silly apps

Another missed bbm feature is the ability to ad bbm contacts and bbm groups to homescreen.

And another quite important one, the ability to block other bbm users and when you delete a contact you disappear from their bbm contacts list too and all your chats gete deleted from the other person too.

It's impossible to cover all the features of BBM within the 15 minute window that Youtube allows for video (Try it, you'll see) but hey -- that's what the comments are for. I didn't "miss" them -- I just ran out of time.

How long has BBM been in its current form (secured data, delivered AND read notification, etc)?
5 years, longer?
Seems to me that Apple brings vintage tech to iPhone, if they had waited any longer it would've been 'retro' :-)

But seriously, how old is BBM?

Did anybody notice how little space for chat is left on the iphone when the keyboard is on screen? Between that and the top bar leaves very little space for chat messages.

interesting see the imessage video and have no sense of crave for iphone at all

if this is a strategy to lure bb users maybe it'll work but for some hardcore user this app is not enough to lure bb users

Real talk, I have been using a BB almost 4 years now & I probably won't switch because that's what works for me; BBM is a major plus. I like what the iPhone brings to the table but I really don't see myself using one. I don't hate on Apple because I've been using a mac book for almost two years now, & I will probably never go back to a PC; because a mac book works for me. So I don't get why people are being all negative about a particular product/feature. At the end of the day, its what works for you, & that's all that REALLY matters.

I think the idea that this is a "bbm killer" or a way to get Black Berry owners to jump ship is a bit far fetched. Beyond sites like this, the rest of the consumer world just enjoys using their devices. As such Apple has added a feature that hopefully brings new people to the iOS platform but keeps the remaining ones happy. iMessage is an app that runs between the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Apple is just keeping its eco system up to par with everything that is out there including BlackBerry. I figure that bbm and iMessage are just small tips of a larger iceberg on both platforms. The major selling feature is all about a question: What are your friends using? If they are all BlackBerry, BBM is the a bonus. If iOS iMessage is it. I'm an iPhone user, but in my option my killer app is email. It "Just Works!"

For just looking at the options screen, not bad. Yesterday's look at basic features really left things out on the BlackBerry side (integrated BBM and SMS, all part of your inbox, ability to add contacts to the home screen). Options were covered well. Hopefully a better video is made to cover yesterday's omissions.

I have never owned a BB or iPhone - I currently use WebOS - waiting for the 9930 to hit and then I am changing. These video's are awesome as they help someone like me make decisions - so far - I see no reason NOT to get a BB

Did you know that when you hit the menu key then the letter "O", it gets you right to the Options menu? Saves the long scrolling. Works with every first letter of the menu item you are looking for. Great comparison video by the way.

My problem is that EVERYONE I know uses an iPhone so BBM is a wonderful feature that sits idle on my BB. I do own an iPod Touch, and will be able to use it to iMessage when it arrives in the Fall as long as I have a WiFi connection, which I usually do.

I think that Apple's eye on including the non iPhone/Mac markets through iTunes, and peripheral devices like the iPod Touch and iPad are strongly contributing to the company's success.

Your friends all have iPhones?
Time to get new friends.
We will accept you with open arms.
Right BB users?

BBM still wins but I'm not sure I'd feel like I was missing out anymore if I switched to iPhone either. The one thing that I hope that BlackBerry does steal is integrating BBM/iMessage with texts - I really like that.

Well that's the big issue. Maybe 10% of the people I work with have a bb. I need to cross platforms. We currently are using live profile to do this, If they would just let bbm out of the box and let it cross platforms

"let it cross platforms".

I'm not sure they could, even if they wanted to.

From what I understand Apple can only provide iMessaging because of their massive new data centre and iCloud service.

BBM uses BIS/BES. Without those services it would just be another mobile IM. In other words - not very good.

Good point. iMessage needs icloud to work. Just like BBM needs BB Data centres. The difference is that RIM has servers areound the world (not just in Canada)I wonder how international iMessages will work. Having to route everything to the US & back could suck for 2 people chatting in Europe, Asia ect

*I should add that I expect apple will be adding international servers in the near future...but for now........

Wished bbm worked on a wifi network.

iMessage probably won't have the traction like other features because its merely just a copy of what other apps can do and what bbm is. It doesn't revolutionise anything or improve on the experience. Isn't that what apple apparently likes to make everyone think?

BBM does work on wifi, but only on BIS apparently. Just the other day I was in a group chat with my cell radio turned off to try that theory out. Works like a charm.

RIM is a company that is so far behind the competition it's sad. I just switched from the BB Bold on Verizon to the Iphone4. Never, ever could you compare the two devices. Don't get me wrong, I really loved and supported BB for over 5 years but they cannot make a phone with 1. A browser that actually works, 2. Software that doesn't freeze constantly and 3. Overall build quality that is pathetic.

Their senior management have their heads in another world because they can't even bring any new handsets to the market in less than 1 year. That's a total joke, and one of the reasons is because they are building their devices in Mexico. Could you really expect quality craftsmanship from there?

Yes, I am bashing RIM because I am sick and tired of the asinine direction of the company! Frankly I couldn't care less about BBM or Iphone messenger for that matter. I want a state of the art phone that works, is feature rich, and built well. RIM will never come close to Apple on any of these fronts, sad but true!

iPhones are made in China in sweatshops that treat their employees like slaves, in factories that have high suicide rates among employees. And BlackBerrys are made in a number of countries, including Europe.

I don't know which Bold you switched from, but it doesn't sound like the latest OS6 device. My Torch is a pretty good device. I get great battery life and the browser is fine. A touch screen and a keyboard. Browser performance is marginally slower than the iPhone - but that's because of compression technology that reduces my data usage - and hence my phone bill.

Apple is so far behind RIM in communication ability it's sad. I don't play that many games, and I don't need a fart app. And then there's the dropped calls.

You just can't compare the iPhone 4 with the Torch.

I use BBM mostly since most of my friends and family use BlackBerry, and frankly Apple don't even come close when it comes to messaging. iOS5 may bring them closer to RIMs standard but that won't happen for a long time by which time RIM will have new phones and no doubt will have moved the standard forward.

I want a state of the art phone that communicates in real time, works and is built well. Apple will never come close to RIM on these fronts. Sad but true.

+1! I don't think this was meant to be an overall "which handset is better?" post but with that said, I agree with the above in the sense that I may be the minority here but BBM is ONE feature (and for me, a small one at that) that keeps me faithful to my precious BlackBerry. If it's the only feature keeping you with a Berry in your hand, maybe an iPhone with iOS5 will be just your ticket since I think you may be missing many of the strengths BlackBerries have to offer.

2 questions

if I send a message to a turned off iphone, do the message arrives when I turn it on?

Does imessage have voice notes?

I want to know that too. iMessage does say when the intened recipient is offline, but does it allow you to send it anyway & give it to them when they turn their iPhone/iPad/iPod/iClone on?

I've been playing around with iMessage for a few days and it definitely lets you send messages to a user who is offline. I haven't seen anything similar to voice notes, but to be fair I'm using it on an iPad.

I'm a BB fanboy, but there are a couple of features in iMessage that I have to say that I like:
1) The contact info seems to tied to the user's Apple ID, not their device ID. So when I (or a contact) switches devices, there's no need to update a PIN.
2) With iMessage you have the ability to select individual messages within a chat to either email or delete. With BBM I only seem to be able to send or delete an entire chat.

I don't think I'm interested in tasting your forbidden fruit, Apple...However, iMessage is a very nice approach to trying to duplicate BBM...BBM has always been the envy of other smartphones...Imitation is sincerest form of flattery...No iPhone for me...No iPad either...matter of fact, getting ready to purchase a Playbook for my new small business :) :) :)

Well, I was an bb user went to iphone and came back. Not because of bbm, i just sms'd my old bbm buddies. I needed push email *work* and a keyboard.

I now have a playbook and am in love with rim once again! My 9800 will be upgraded to the new bold etc etc.

I'M BACK BABY IM BACK! I'm rim for life now. Just hope they stay in business so I will have something to buy always. =p

Both my sisters have ipads and iphone4's tho... fyi I hate itunes with a passion.

BBM has no value to me at all. Most of my friends have switched because they got tired of waiting for RIM to come out with world class leading products and the other side was and is very alluring. The folks I communicate with now have androids or iphones, and those that use blackberry are on the corporate bes and just use text messaging. At least with imessage I might save some money because I'm on a 200 per month message plan and some would go thru as imessage and some as chargeble sms messages. Not sure I really want an iphone but the androids are getting too tempting even for this die hard BB fan. RIM got caught with their pants down and can not seem to figure out how to pull them up. As far as the Playbook is concerned it seems to be a nice platform, but still way to far behind the competition. I see the US Government buying thousands of ipads for pilots and ipads are becoming mainstream in general aviation while Playbook wants to concentrate on new games. Go figure that one out. I think the game is up! Don't get me wrong I still love my Blackberry, but I'm using an ancient Bold 9000 because it works better than anything BB can come up with for the last 2+ years!!!

As soon as Facebook 2.0 for bb is out, my one and only app for communication will be Facebook. Most people stay logged in to it on their smartphones anyhow... and if I don't want to be bothered, I can log out (and get the message when I log back in on pc or phone).

I think its funny that people will sign contracts or spend 500-600$ on a berry just for a messenger. I have both a bb and a iphone and email is quick and simple on bb which is good but aside from that and its good battery life, its a dull and outdated OS. I have had a bb for 4 years and an iphone since feb 2010. there is absolutely no comparison that the iphone is better. I dislike the Imessage not being its own separate app. That being said, bb will lose a lot of customers due to Imessage.