My mind may be changing when it comes to how I treat my BlackBerry PIN and who I add to my BlackBerry Messenger. Funny thing is, it wasn’t too long ago that I was going on about how I keep my friends close, and my PIN even closer. I honestly didn’t want my PIN to be out there for anyone to add me. I did that once when I was still new to the CrackBerry community and though I did find some really amazing people to talk to, there were always a few individuals who I felt like they would leave me in a bathtub full of ice and have my kidneys removed, if they had the chance. So when I was looking up information on PIN sharing options, I came across Search 4 BBM which, at first glance, was another PIN sharing site; or so I thought.
I had the chance to meet with the Search 4 BBM team at the 2011 BlackBerry Developers Conference last month. The first time it was for inclusion in the DevCon booth tour and the second was a meet and greet with the entire group. After gaining more information on what was to the idea behind Search 4 BBM and the options that were available, I had a much better understanding for what they do. It wasn’t necessarily a messaging free for all; there could be a profound purpose for picking PINs from the plethora of people. Looking for those with similar interests? Need to find someone in a specific profession? Search 4 BBM offers a secure way to help make contact without everyone having access to your PIN, unless you like that sort of thing. They’re definitely worth taking a good look at, which we are about to do riiiiiiiiiiight….now!
Search 4 BBM was established roughly 7 months ago, with a soft launch occurring 4 months ago. Since that time, they’ve already accumulated over half a million members who actively take part in reaching out to others. Search for BBM is based in Israel and is lead by CEO Nimrod Cohen. Search 4 BBM does put a new twist on adding contacts to BlackBerry Messenger. We all know that most people chat with one another (in person, phone or email, social networking site, etc) and then add them to BlackBerry Messenger. In this case, you can search their database (which just so happens to be the largest one around) for people just waiting for you to use their PIN. Users can log in using their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google or Search 4 BBM accounts.
Now there are quite a few ways to search for contacts using Search 4 BBM. You may prefer looking for contacts that may be in one of your social networks. Depending on how many contacts you have, you may not be able to ask each and every single one of them if they are using a BlackBerry smartphone (though they should be). Searching through your social networks will help point out those who are fellow BlackBerry smartphone users. Say you met someone at a party; you got their name, but forgot to get their number or email. You saw them carrying a BlackBerry, so you decide to attempt to search for them through Search 4 BBM by name. You can also set your search criteria by category; if you need to find someone close by of a certain profession, like a plumber to help you with a currently flooding kitchen sink. Perhaps you need a lift and want to find the closest taxi driver. With categories like biotechnology, public relation or even clergy, you can find them all here. Searches can also be set by location and there are two ways to do this from the website- you can focus the search on a specific Country, State/Province and City. If you’re visiting a City you haven’t been to before, you can ask the locals where the best place is to have dinner, catch a show or sightsee. The other method is to search on the map included, both on their website and their BlackBerry application. I preferred using the website, as I found the map on the application to be slow and the controls a bit awkward (no touch screen navigation- slow response time). Regardless, you can see fellow users and their reported location. Other filters allow you to search by gender and age, as well.
Again, Search 4 BBM isn’t a messaging free for all; you can set your security level so your BlackBerry smartphone PIN can be seen by everybody, only social friends or only individuals that your personally approve. While your Profile is completely public, you can choose how much or how little detail you want to share about yourself. Users can show share their location, pictures, status/situation and other contact details.
Understanding the BlackBerry application is still in beta, there are some much needed additions that I would like to see. Profile management on a BlackBerry smartphone is a definite must; including the option to upload images. I’m hoping this functionality comes soon. The mapping option is a great idea and could help making contact with fellow users within close proximity of each other, but the map needs to be incredibly smooth. Search 4 BBM goes well above and beyond what BlackBerry Messenger can when it comes to adding new contacts. It’s, by far, an amazing filtering tool that is much more secure than slapping your PIN up in a forum. Especially since you can report accounts for abuse, potentially resulting in that account being closed. As its user base grows, so will its ability to connect everyone with a BlackBerry smartphone. Consider Search 4 BBM a more secure way to see who is worthy of being added to your BlackBerry Messenger Contact list, as well as a door to a more detailed look at profiles. If you want to check out Search 4 BBM, you can sign up for a free account and download the free application from BlackBerry App World.