WHAT IF BlackBerry Messenger had gone cross platform?

What if BBM had gone cross platform?
By Chris Umiastowski on 30 Oct 2012 12:47 pm EDT

For quite some time now, I've been a firm believer that RIM should release BlackBerry Messenger on other platforms. At first I wasn't sure if they should. But smarter people convinced me.

Over the weekend Kevin and I got to talking about this. We bounced around a few thoughts, and he suggested this would make a great "what if" editorial topic. With is hectic schedule managing the Mobile Nations business, I get to be the one to write it up.

What prompted this conversation? WhatsApp. That's what. Ever since the startup company launched their multi-platform messaging tool, CrackBerry Nation has been watching its progress.

Calling the growth of WhatsApp "progress" feels like calling Hurricane Sandy "a bit of a storm". They've gone from transmitting 1 billion messages per day in October of last year to over 10 billion messages per day in August 2012. This metric comes from a corporate tweet, in which they announced a new record of "4B inbound, 6B outbound = 10b total messages a day!" It sounds like they are counting a send and a receive as 2 messages, so I'll treat this as 5 billion daily messages. Still, it's a LOT.

Compare WhatsApp to BBM. RIM has 60 million BBM users, according to their most recent metrics. The average BBM user would have to send 83 messages per day to match the volume of WhatsApp. I don't believe the average is anywhere close to that high, so it seems to me WhatsApp has a far greater user base than RIM. It's also much bigger than iMessage considering Apple claims to have handled a cumulative total of 300 billion iMessages (since its launch).

That's what happens when you go multi-platform. WhatsApp is very likely the world's #1 mobile IM platform.

In my opinion, and I'm not sure if others will disagree, RIM has pretty much stagnated with BBM. The UI hasn't changed in years, though what we have seen of BBM on BlackBerry 10 does look pretty solid. Very few important new features or innovations have happened this decade. RIM's big push has been trying to leverage BBM by creating APIs so that other apps could be BBM-connected. I'm not convinced it has helped them grow their user base. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has improved its initially-lacking service by adding their version of Groups, which has been one of BBM's biggest differentiators. WhatsApp groups now allow for up to 30 people, and you can share pictures, videos, audio notes, contacts and locations.

I also see the size of the user base as being FAR more important than the feature set. Look at SMS. It's basically one feature. Text. Yet the user base is billions, because it's a global standard. The value of network size is well documented. Just look at Metcalfe's Law, which states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users on that network. Double the users? Four times the value.

WhatsApp grew while being inferior to BBM. In fact the app has been outed as being totally insecure over Wi-Fi. Unless they've fixed the problem, anyone with a rooted Android app can sniff your conversations. While people should care about this kind of problem, sadly most do not even know about it. They're too busy chatting. Even those who are aware of the security risk are likely to ignore it because the perceived downside of not using the app to connect with friends is worse than the perceived risk of being spied on.

Many BlackBerry users are making the switch to WhatsApp or other cross platform IM clients (Kik, Hookt, etc.) to be able to chat with friends on non-BlackBerry hardware. But some simply grew frustrated because of the big network failure that hit RIM in Europe. BBM was down for several days for many users. Was this the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back?

Kevin shared a story with me from his future brother in law, demonstrating this problem. He moved to Spain for a year to complete an MBA. When he got there, he observed that most people were using BBM. By the time he left, there had been a sweeping shift towards WhatsApp. From his observations, the recent BlackBerry service interruption that affected Europe served as a catalyst allowing many to abandon their BBs, and from there began to rely on WhatsApp to fill their BBM void with the BBM group functionality they were used to.

Simply put, BlackBerry Messenger is no longer king of the hill. Even with 60 million users, many of these users also use WhatsApp to chat cross-platform, and it seems quite clear from the math that WhatsApp has a larger installed base. Jump into App World right now and you'll see that WhatsApp is the #1 downloaded free BlackBerry app. BBM may have best-in-class features and speed, but WhatsApp definitely appears to be good enough for the masses.

Platform specific apps such as iMessage and BBM have definite value. But they seem unlikely to win out over cross-platform tools. Even Microsoft has taken this into account with Windows 8 by creating the concept of "rooms". Snap that photo of your cute toddler and want to share it with family? No problem. You can send it off to all contacts defined as family and it works across multiple platforms. Want to share a calendar? Same thing.

And of course Microsoft owns Skype, which is already cross-platform. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft merges its Windows 8 rooms with Skype functionality for even better cross-platform leverage. After all, Skype is gigantic and at peak times they host over 40 million users online. They merge the desktop world with the mobile world, which is something iMessage does, but WhatsApp and BBM do not.

So now it's time to ask the hard questions. If RIM had taken BlackBerry Messenger to Android, iOS and even Symbian over a year ago would it have helped device sales? Or would it have acted as a catalyst, speeding up defection away from BlackBerry? We are interested in your thoughts, so comment away.

I firmly believe a cross-platform move would have helped. Obviously, for those who already abandoned BlackBerry, the downside of losing BBM was not enough to stop them. When enough of the influencers leave, the rest follow. Being cross-platform could have stopped a lot of bleeding in my opinion.

Kevin also proposed (and I agree with the view) that cross-platform BBM would have saved RIM a lot of brand tarnish in the USA. Having a kick-ass IM app that was respected on iOS and Android would be a good thing. So even if device sales still lagged (likely), at least the BlackBerry brand would be more intact. Jump into Apple's App Store and at any given moment you'll see WhatsApp as the #1 or #2 top downloaded app. Had BBM gone cross platform earlier, odds are it would have killed WhatsApp and the rest of the cross platform IM client competitors dead before they even had a chance to grow. Instead of WhatsApp, you'd be seeing a BlackBerry logo on the top downloads list of every other app store. And that wouldn't be a bad thing for BlackBerry.

Finally, would a cross-platform implementation of BBM have given RIM more marketing muscle when it comes to the launch of BlackBerry 10? It seems to me the answer is yes. Think of all the folks, who abandoned BlackBerry, who might at least be still using a key BlackBerry application, and therefore more willing to consider switching back.

Discussing a backwards-looking "what if" scenario is tough. We'll never know the right answer. But if the reasons for RIM moving cross platform were good in 2010 or 2011, then I think they are still good today. I'd like to see RIM get back to innovating on BBM and take it cross platform.

Reader comments

WHAT IF BlackBerry Messenger had gone cross platform?


A lot of ppl would probably switch platforms. Especially outside of the US. Personally, I dont use BBM at all but I can kinda see how its useful. If RIM got rid of BBM it wouldn't phase me at all honestly. The keyboard, LED notifications, and push email all trump BBM.

That was probably true a few years ago. Now people they know they have the whatsapp alternative so they dont care.

However we're wasting time talking about hot air here, RIM was not able to port bbm to playbook in like 2 years almost even if they decide to port it to ios or android it'll take then probably another five years and by them people will probably have other ways to communicate.

You are so wrong. RIM did not release BBM for PlayBook because they wanted this app to work with the same PIN of the BB smartphone and not, or not necessarily, with the PlayBook PIN number, because this would have caused the lost of all the contacts and two different BBM "worlds" in each of the devices. RIM wanted to get BBM for PlayBook and for the smartphone to work both seamlessly with just ONE PIN and merged one into the other to ease the process of drop the phone and pick the tablet and continue the SAME conversation. RIM wanted to do this without compromising security, and it was...impossible?

That is the truth. Not what you think and that you probably have already spread it like if RIM wasn't able to make BBM work on the PlayBook.

This is the problem. People talk about BlackBerry without having a clue of what is happening. Sad.


And with BBM being integrated with BBID in BB10 it makes it seem like they are shifting to either the benefit of a more seamless single sign in route to all services and/or making BBM rely on BBID to connect rather than PIN which will make it potentially work on the backend in a different way so as it can then be ported to other platforms which would be fantastic. With GIST taking control of the social apps as well as BBID, their fresh take on how to connect users hopefully will make this happen.

All I know it what I was told. The CEO of rim on stage stated that PlayBook would have BBM at launch, I bought the PlayBook when it was first released in Europe and even thought BBM was not there I was told it was coming in a few months. Now SEVERAL months later (years) I'm still waiting. The reasons why it's not there are non of my business, I'm a consumer I buy products to get the things I want done I dont care how they are built. What is sad is that I was sold a product on false promises.

- RIM would have a very tough time defending their position in the low-end markets, especially against cheaper Android devices.

Why would they risk missing out on potential handset sales AND potential revenue (for people that do still need BBM), or risk losing their current revenue stream (from current subscribers that decide to switch to another platform) for just a one-time pay off through iOS or Android?

However, I could see it happen when BB10 arrives, but:

- It wouldn't fit in with their current "BB10 = priority" strategy. Why waste money and resources on bringing an old BBM platform to iOS and Android.. while they're working on a complete overhaul of BBM for BB10?

I am guessing that they count a message sent in a group to 30 people as 30 messages.
I personally send way more then 83 messages a day probably in the rang of 300 to 500 depending on the day.

I agree with Big. 83 messages is nothing!

Before saying anything else, I have to say that I hate Whatsapp, It just lags a lot.

And no matter how good whatsapp is, if BBM goes on other platforms, it will kill whatsapp instantly, I'm pretty much sure of that.

All the people I know who have a BB, is because of BBM, and who don't (iPhone mostly) will admit that BBM is the only thing good about BB, and that's the only thing in a BB better then everything else. (I agree with half of that, a BB is better than the iPhone in many other things!)

I guess it's hard to have an answer.
On the positive side, the number of users of BBM will definitely jump, everyone will have it within the first day of it's availability (most phones will crash! :P) and people will get to know what a BB is, and they might start considering switching to a BB.

On the negatif side, many will have no more reason to stay with a BB, why not get an iPhone with BBM, or an android with BBM! that will push some BB clients away for sure.

Overall rest sure, if BBM goes to other platforms, Whatsapp is dead.

I use WhatsApp on iOS. Can you tell me if BBM does the following?:

• Send/Receive high quality photos/videos
• Record audio notes
• Share contacts
• Share location

Just curious as I haven't use BBM in years.

Yes it can do all of them, in quite a very good way!
you can share files, appointments too.

That's not correct in regards to "high quality" videos. In fact they are are reduced to a quality that makes them worthless. The voice notes are cool however.

Well maybe ur right, I cannot argue with that.

I know that I have never had any quality issues or whatsoever.

its correct and incorrect. basically when sending a video, there is a size limit. so you could send a higher quality short video, or a lower quality long video. its really all about the meg used and nothing to do with quality in that sense, although with no BB`s having screens over 480p (480pixels high in landscape orientation) the need/want to send very high quality does seem diminished.

that of course could all change with BB10 and (probably more the factor) LTE.

BlackBerry has a service outage once in a blue moon and everyone cries. iMessage and others have service interruptions and you don't hear a peep.

Chris, your arguments are very valid for the US. I actually like that idea but it only works in the US. I think having BBM on other platforms outside the US would have hurt sales drastically and RIM would not be sitting on $2 billion cash right now if that was the case and BB10 would've been history. So I think it would've done more damage than good.

If you want secure, reliable messaging, BBM is still king.

Also, FYI, 3.5 billion BBMs are *SENT* every day so it's not that far off from Whatsapp's 4 billion sent messages.

"BlackBerry has a service outage once in a blue moon and everyone cries. iMessage and others have service interruptions and you don't hear a peep."

The reason is twofold.

BBM is BB's big pull, so take that away and many people rely on it, take it away and the BB loses it's big pull over the other OSs (not taking into account the keyboard)
The other part is if iMessage is out it just reverts to a text, the difference you see is the colour changes and you lose the media send option, but you can still send basic messages without any effort. With BBM I have been in a situation where a friend has changed SIM, but still using the same phone, I didn't know their new number, but could BBM them, but when BBM goes down...then I'm stuffed, I have seen this in lots of people.

I worked for RIM for 4 years and when it was rumoured that we'd sell off BBM and let other platforms have it... I thought we were doomed, would have been a bad decision, but now I think it might help retain current customers who are thinking of switching as all their friends are not on BBs now...

@Chris what we don't know yet is how/if "BBM connected" will be embbeded in third party social/IM apps !
What if BBM becomes "embedded" with Facebook, Twitter or even whatsApp ?
Add the video and you have now the most universal IM ... ever.
The best for BB customers (I've learned T.H lesson : do not call "them" users" ;-) ) and the compatibility with virtually any BB10 ported social/IM app ...

P.S : you started the "what if" angle, I'm just turning it 180° :D

EDITED: so my answer is; if what i dream of (the above) is true, then porting BBM cross-platform would have been a huge mistake.

BBM integration with facebook would definitely provide that cross platform experience but through a third party platform. That would be brilliant..

WhatsApp sucks, messages supposedly readed, are not in some cases, and sometimes the messages are not delivered at all. Not to mention, WhatsApp works on your phone number, If I dont want to give it to anyone neither my email, I cannot use it. that is why I love BBM, because the PIN gives you enough privacy

Same here. I use my phone for work and don't want clients sending me Whatsapp messages. Not only that, but they take your address book in order to match users which totally sucks for privacy. I don't want them seeing my address book.

I agree with that, Whatsapp sucks big time!

Whenever I receive a whatsapp message, my whole phone lags. i hate it!

Same here.. I used WhatsApp for a few weeks. Found it to be a battery hog and the user experience wasn't that great.. I deleted and stick with BBM.. If you're no longer on BBM my modo is email or call me if you want to get a hold of me.. I refuse to use cross platform or text messaging.. I think once they launch BB10 going cross platform might be a good option or at the very least they should have a desktop client of BBM..

You did not read what Chris says. BBM is still better than WhatsApp, I think everybody here agrees, but WhatsApp still has more users simply because it is cross-platform. The value people get by having more people on their list is greater than a few extra features.

BBM should release Android and iOS apps and limit a few features (like Video Chat, extra simleys, etc), that way they can capitalize on the BBM brand to sell Blackberry 10 with its added features. BBM can easily trump WhatsApp, because of superior features and because they would bring it out for free (WhatsApp is $0.99P), people can then pay an extra fee on other platforms to get those extra features unlocked.

This strategy could also have benefits in the enterprise world, where BYOD is becoming more prevalent. Corporate users could also start using BBM because of its security and Blackberry could upsell corporate users with enterprise specific services further, further enforcing their brand in corporations.

I don't see how they can lose with this strategy.

Think of it this way: 4 billion messages are sent (inbound). But if you're sending your message to group, then your one message will get delivered (outbound) multiple times to all the people in the group. Therefore the delivered (outbound) number is higher.

I've suggested this in a thread on the CB Forums.

RIM believes BBM should remain exclusive, to add benefit to purchasing a BlackBerry, which also includes security.

However, as you pointed out - WhatsApp is what's up these days dwarfing even iMessage for Apple users. Also mentioned, was that WhatsApp pretty much has ALL the features of BBM

My suggestion was for RIM to have 2 versions of BBM. 1 cross-platform, and 1 native - the native version having more features available.

Also, I think RIM should acquire some of these cross-platforms to eliminate choice / competition... Google actually did something like that a few months back...

Let's not forget the main reason folks have been moving to WhatsApp. Folks moving from BB to other platforms. If RIM did move to other platforms, they would have been distracted. Moving to a cross platform solution will not stop competitors from buidling something else. BBM will just have to stay ahead of WhatsApp to continue to be relevant.

Opening BBM to cross platform would likely had been revenue neutral, sales of the app to iOS and Android users would have offset sales from reduced BlackBerry devices and service revenue.

RIM needs to deliver a device that has the latest specs, features and a large screen because that is what the majority want and it's coming with BlackBerry 10.

"RIM needs to deliver a device that has the latest specs, features and a large screen because that is what the majority want and it's coming with BlackBerry 10."


People do look at that too...

I think BBM is important in developing countries more than developed countries. I love BBM and trust RIM as the keeper of my data. I think that most people in developed countries stay with Blackberry for other reasons than BBM and I don't think BBM will drive people back...BB10 will drive people back!

I used to use BBM, but almost no one I know is still on BB so it's essentially useless to me. It doesn't matter what features or differentiators it has if I can only IM with 5% of people I know.


Even if they add video chat, it will be just like the Playbook's video chat. Unless you still know someone with a Blackberry (or Playbook) its useless.

I say forget BBM and just focus on getting more people back to Blackberry. Then add all those exclusive features later.

I probably would have bought a new phone already if BBM was cross platform, Thus losing money for RIM. Only reason I stayed is my parents and I use BBM daily to communicate and it works great. If BBM went to Win8, "Hello new phone".

I think it would have done BBM a lot of good, and yes, if the cross-platform versions were well written (that's certainly not a sure thing), it could have easily beat WhatsApp. Having said that, WhatsApp is just a messaging platform. It's not an OS or a phone or a tablet. If the goal is to get people BBMing then great. If the goal is to get people buying your phones you're still out in the woods since you still don't have one of those to sell them.

You might stall some people from leaving BlackBerry for another platform if they can still communicate with their friends who now have BBM on their Android or iPhone, but I would put it to you that WhatsApp accomplished the exact same goal. I can communicate with folks who have Androids and iPhones using WhatsApp.

In both cases you still have to compete in a North American tech media dominated by Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Those three little companies don't want you to succeed and are going to pump out article after article about why you can't, shouldn't and won't.

What RIM should have done with the launch of OS7 devices was give BBM the ability to video chat with other BBM users all over the world. This would have given a giant push to OS7 devices and given a big reason for older BB users to get that 9900 rather than an S2 or iPhone.

There are a couple of things to look at.

1) BBM is still better than the rest. Whatsapp is close, but a laggy memory hog on my 9810.
2) New BB buyers might not buy a BB just for BBM if it's available on other platforms.
3) Those of us who really need a keyboard won't run off because of BBM availability on other platforms.
4) BBM requires BIS. RIM and the carriers get new BIS users on other platforms. That adds revenue for RIM and, once the user sees the lower data usage, the new guys might be attracted to what else a Blackberry might do to give more bang for the data buck.

I disagree completely. I think going cross platform with BBM would have caused US market to go away even more than it has, and more developed other markets to be much less than they are now and RIM would have announced bleeding customers instead adding 2 Million. BBM is what has kept me, and other people I know with Blackberry. If I could have gotten the exact same service on another platform, RIM would have lost a major check mark keeping me with BB, and the three other BlackBerry phones in my home and 3 others from family outside of the home with them. Also how are you going to monetize this or parlay it into advertising muscle for BB10? Send out ads, charge people fees, charge for the app? RIM gets money via the carriers now with every BIS account, but I doubt that a user of an app is going to generate monthly revenue per user, especially with lower cost alternatives already on the market.

Also RIM can't compete with Android on pricing, and cheap Chinese Androids with BBM would have cleaned up in developing markets (like Indonesia where cheap Androids already are eating into RIM's dominance there) with RIM seeing smaller revenue than they are now. Nope I know you guys want to be able to use BBM's when you take your iPads, iPhones and Android devices out for spins, but if that were the case then RIM would probably be in bankruptcy precedings right now IMHO.

Massively agree!

BBM is one of the things that make a BB special. Once you start diluting the benefits you risk customers.

Dumbest article/idea ever!

BBM really isn't a big benefit anymore though, that's the whole point. The fact that BBM is stuck on BlackBerry and no one wants a BlackBerry anymore makes BBM sorda pointless for an awful lot of people.

Just think - How many people have left BlackBerry in the last few years? How many of those people that left BlackBerry had access to BBM?

If BBM is enough to save RIM then why are there millions upon millions of ex BlackBerry users?

Won't keep everyone, but it keeps some. I use it to communicate with co-workers all over the world and when I travel internationally too, and to keep in touch with family too. These are personal devices, not work issued ones. It is simply the best way to communicate to people mobile-to-mobile globally. I also turn on international service with my carrier and for $20, have a full month of unlimited use overseas.

I think that one idea that could help RIM pushing BBM to other platforms would be to allow it but in a way where they could install some kind of banner ad, a bit like the Net-Zero model for Internet, that way they could generate revenu from advertisement and by the same way see bbm enbedded in a blackberry device a better value proposition since it would be ad-free. What do you guys think ?

I don't think iOS users would like that very much, android user would be fine with it since they all want their apps for free.

Even if they did put it on other platforms, there would not be there same features as on a BB app on other platforms would not be able to BBM connected. With BB10 there would be even more features that others would not have. There will be a lot more added to BBM for BB10 that they have not said to anyone outside of RIM

BBM used to be that killer feature when most of the people used feature phone and some was starting to use smartphone, BB was the leader so it was ok, but now other companies picked up steam and although BB10 will be so advanced it will never go mainstream until BlackBerry as a brand comes back full force and one of the way would be to spoon feed some features to other users like BBM lite and slowly bring them to BB platform. My point is, as much as BBM is the best IM outhere, it will not prevent me to use whatsapp because most of my friends left Blackberry for other platforms. But having BBM to compete with whatsapp, a lot of people who left BB would be tempted to come back and give a try to BB10, something less likely to happen if BlackBerry is nowhere to be heard.

I don't see any upside to making it cross platform. What is there to be gained financially? You don't give away the crown jewels and still expect to keep your users.

I believe the right time for BBM to go cross platform is shortly after the launch of BB10. If the release of BBM to the other platforms is done correctly, we should see a net migration of user to BB10 (assuming that the hardware and OS is just as good as IOS and android). I will let the other users of this forum provide insights on how to launch BBM on the other eco-systems.

I agree if they are going to make it cross platform, it will be after BB10 launches, because there will be more features in BBM on a BlackBerry10 device compared to iOs or Android.

BBM staying exclusive to BlackBerry is another example of RIM making a horrible decision. RIM thinks that having BBM on only BlackBerry will force people to stay with BlackBerry so they can use BBM. That may be the case in some places of the world, but it certainly isn't the case in America.

I used to have all of my friends and family that owned a smartphone on BBM. At one time I had 50ish people that I actually knew in person on BBM. People that I need or wanted to talk to and people that were in my city or the surrounding area.

Now I got 1 BBM contact that I know in person left. My other 5 contacts are strangers I've never met from other states and I don't even chat with them. I just haven't gotten around to deleting them yet.

Guess what RIM? No one I know cares about BBM anymore. They don't care because you kept it exclusive to BlackBerry for some stupid reason and all of them lost most of their contacts just like I did. I know of a few people that would still have a BlackBerry if they could still use BBM to message the people they care about.

RIM could have ruled the IM app game, they probably would have killed SMS/MMS, but instead they kept it exclusive and caused BBM to loose all of its relevance. I've seen BlackBerry fans from America bragging about all of their BBM contacts and how much they use it still. Then they admit the vast majority of their contacts are from another country and no one they know locally has a BlackBerry anymore. Lol what's the point of using BBM if the people you want to message can't use it?

You are very America-centric. BBM is huge in some parts of the world, where smartphone use is just starting to take off.

Do you mean the parts of the world where low priced Android devices are eating away at RIM's market share?

Yes, I live in South America and that's the case.
Android cheap phones are increasing tremendously.

I think the real question is not whether they should but if they could. BBM needs BIS and access to the NOC to work, right? We, as BB owners, understand the need for the BIS and the extra cost for the BB plan. Although, where I live, the BIS plan is the data plan for BBs and not an extra cost.

Normal users will not see the need to pay a monthly subscription for BBM when they can get other free alternatives. I believe that they should take a cue from enterprise and make BIS cross platform like BES/Mobile Fusion. They should add BB Protect, along with BBM, along with the ability to manage your family's devices over a dashboard, despite the OS. They can add app data, contacts, text messages, etc and since it is incremental and going through the NOC, it is compressed.

I guess, I am trying to say that they should try to become the carbonite of the mobile world and be cross platform and let BBM be a value add instead of the whole deal.

Rims holding onto this one feature for dear life, that's not a good sign.
I've always said Rim should make BBM go cross platform, just make the other version carry less features.
1. no status updates
2. no sending of files
3. give limited emos

They have to reseed again, no one wants to jump to Rim from another device and have no bbm contacts, what's the point. Let them build up the BBM contact list with their current phone and when their contract is up with whomever they can switch.

Rim is missing the boat I feel on this one, they should be looking at BBM as a seeding strategy now.

I use both BBM and WhatsApp. The problem I have with WhatsApp is that recipients on iPhone, Android and Windows Phones never seem to receive the messages instantaneously. I'm sure this is due to the lack of true push, and multi-tasking failure. iPhone is the worst culprit with these message delays.

What's sad is, I've tried other cross-messaging platforms, and most of them use more battery life than WhatsApp, so I've stuck it.

They should find a way to make a few bucks a month off of everyone by making it a subscription service. Otherwise, maybe allow it to hook into other messaging sevices but keep the BBM some exclusivity amongst BB users too.
Also, the reason it took so long to do on the Playbook was due to the Playbook's security, I believe.

BBM Cross Platform would commodities a key BB brand feature. Not a good idea. But it's a typical Wall Street solution for "unit" talk and its conjecture.
BB suffering because of multi year product delays, which only new BB10 offerings can reverse, (...not "cross branding" panic).
BB10 new OS platform and world class (hardware/software) user experience is the answer for RIM success.

If the widespread appeal of open-platform BBM doesn't trump "keep BBM on BlackBerry only, so we don't hemmorage more customers", then RIM deserves to go bankrupt. If all you have is one feature that's keeping everybody penned in, you don't have a viable product. Imagine if iMessage had gone cross platform. Would people buy less iPhones? Doubt it. Would they get more platform buy-in? Probably yes. Would more people be happy because they could talk to their friends, without having to worry "oh gee, Billy is using an Android, or a BlackBerry... can I chat with him easily?", yes. Yes they would be more happy. Doesn't that count for something? Goodwill, advertising, it all drives a brand forward.

I think a good analogy of BBM being cross platform is Skype on WM8... its integrated, its always on, might not have D/R notifications... but its a messenger for WM8 devices.. with a large user base... active user base (unlike Google talk on android devices)...

Rim should go cross platform, but have it communicate through only their network, and charge $2/month or $10/year for the service for non BlackBerry devices - maybe even less. This should include allowing third party apps to be BBM connected.


I think RIM needs to hold on to BBM. I use BBM all day, every day. I communicate using BBM more then I do using email on my BB. It's a RIM app, and it's great, and they need to hold on to it as their own.....with all that said......I hate the fact that I have to exit out of BBM to text my brother who uses an iphone. I hate the fact I can't see if it's been delivered and/or read, or if he's replying or not. I just sit there, stare at the screen and wonder "is a reply coming? did he get it? what do I do while I wait?" (yes, I'm being silly, but making a point). So with that now said....I don't know, maybe I would rather him have BBM so I can stay in the same app, and know what's going on with my conversation....which usually starts off with "Why the f@#k do you have an iphone?!?!?!". So I'm torn. I want RIM to keep their app to themselves, because I think it's great, and I love how it's exclusive to BB users. If you want the best, you need to get a BB.
So...confused.....need to....bbm....someone!!!

I wish I could use BBM cross platform - then I'd be able to talk to all my former BB friends who jumped to ifreakin'phone. Nothing I'd like better than to be able to Ping my kid again when she doesn't answer a text. (Grin)

I'm the only one of my friends and business associates who uses BB, so BBM totally useless for me. Haven't uses whatsapp, and besides, I find SMS meets all my needs.

"What if" "It Would be" :
Bad, and nonsense. Why?
mmm do no where to start, just for ex. there was that NYT article which says the BlackBerry is a BlackSheep, which said BlackBerry is a gas phone to use because blablablabla bwuah!
if the ppl are think that what we have been read.
why should be share with 'em our BBM? not because that : "let's hate em because they said"
but..BBM is for BlackBerry's and honest i pay for the BBM monthly as you guys too (who's are using BIS).
If i pay they need to have pay too for this.
not at least BBM is BlackBerrys Image.
If it would be true that they're going to use the BBM via platform, i think the basic BlackBerry users should leave the BB, am not sure, but personally i'd be angry about the platform thing.
i know that RIM need to do something new and they need more users, but damn it its a Big Family! and don't kick up the Family Rules.that's why it's BlackBerry Team. because we're a Team. there's no other phone company who had a team like RIM's.
there are xx millions users of BlackBerry!
It's Ours. if its a BlackSheep if its a Gas, never going to leave the BlackBerry! Because it's Ours!
what if ..so that's would be bad, and not fair. :)
have a nice day/evening!

It seems like it would have been a good move in the short term. But the long term it would have screwed them more than helped.

Reason being is because one key feature to bring people to BB10 is BBM. Just like how iPhone has iMessage.

It's a neat feature. It's a great app, there's a lot you can do with it. They're building an ecosystem with BB10.

BBM, a social service, would be a key part in it.

yap and if they want to use BBM..how's BlackBerry Says? BlackBerry By Choice!
the choice is here for everyone. le'ts buy the BB and from that time, these guys are welcome to use the BBM whenever they want to use!
sry forget to write.
cheers up!

Few would pay for BBM when other free apps are available.

And at the moment if I don't need a BlackBerry for BBM then why would I buy a BlackBerry?

If and when BB10 takes off and is seen as a market leader, then maybe RIM could open up BBM in a limited way, but not until then.

Or if they can find some other way of monetizing the app - perhaps it would be worth the risk. Otherwise no way at the moment.

BBM is still the best messaging platform of its type and rumour has it BBM video is on it's way. I imagine RIM will be adding other features to the platform given the push they've been making to Devs to integrate BBM into their apps.

Of course cross platform BBM is a great idea. Free beer is also a great idea but the brewery would soon go bust.

i am with bb because of its keyboard, in my os i delete bbm and use whats app as my primary messanger and texting.

Would a cross platform BBM help or hurt RIM? Seems like it could go either way based on the arguments posted on this blog. What's even more intriguing in my view is if BBM even needs to go cross platform in its BB10 incarnation. We know the QNX kernel has the ability to integrate apps written for Android and even iOS into BB10 with minimal code changes using the developer tools provided by RIM, and that Facebook, Twitter and possibly Skype will be directly embedded into the BB10 OS. What If non BB users could be able to somehow access BBM through their FB, Twitter and Skype accounts when they are either text chatting or video chatting with a friend using a BB10 device? I know this is way out there, but since we're playing "What If" why not push the envelope.

The thing is, Whats app is crap, its slow and half the time i dont get peoples messages or i dont get theres! seems easier to just text with unlimited texts

I agree with that!

Whenever my phones lags, I know that I received a Whatsapp message.

And often I dont receive messages until I open the app, mainly from iPhone users.

Seriously this app frustrates me a lot, and most of my friends are leaving BB and BBM.

I've wanted BBM on other platforms too but it isn't going to happen and it shouldn't not for me and my friends but for RIM.

There are only two cases for BBM on another platform
1. you already own a BB

2.it is part of an app (social app or game other than BBM) and can't actually be used as a stand alone messenger but shows off its strengths.

There is a third possibility and that is if BB10 is a success and RIM has a different equally sticky feature to retain customers.

A scenario:

People see BB10 and think about switching might say to themselves "that BB10 looks sweet! plus it has BBM!" now will their friends have BBM? probably not but they could buy a BB10 too especially if RIM now offers the apps they want.

Can they make BBM receive messages from and send to WhatsApp or other messaging systems? Kinda like the Hub on BB10, but for instant messaging.

Those who use whatsap doesn't know/doesn't care of what whatsap can get from your phone. I don't really use ввм™ much, it doesn't really that matter to me as long as I still be able to keep using blackberry as it is now :p

Though in my oppinion, rather than made it universal, it's better to enable it to communicate to other messenger. Maybe using openAuth (or whatever they use to login to different site/social media)? I'm not a programmer but I think it's better that way for us users. Well, maybe not for the messengers though :p

Someone mentioned earlier, but I would reiterate the best play would be to make BBM cross platform through integration on social media (Facebook, g+, Twitter).

One problem. If I asked my friends that all have Android and iPhone devices to install BBM, they'd ask why? They already all have unlimited SMS plans. You said it yourself, SMS is the most cross platform of all. We all text.

Not all of us. Texting charges are the biggest scam going on by the carriers. I won't text and most people now know not to text me because if they do it will go answered.. BBM of email or phone or nothing!

WhatsApp revenue and costs are unknown and the company still needs to raise money through venture capital to operate. They are experiencing such large growth because it allows people to abandon text message fees. Something which also once drove the growth of RIM but the long-term business model is far from stable.

Opening up RIM's network to cross-platform messaging might have brought more costs than benefits. Without any insight into implementation, this is just an empty exercise.

All cross-platform would have done is transform RIM into a message service. Not exactly what they want to be.

As BB10 gets closer and closer to launch we are faced with new info about our savior OS. Whenever one of these tidbits come to light I make sure that all my friedns know it too. One thing they keep asking me is how the new BBM is going to work and look like. There are a lot of people that are still with BB for the soul purpose of BBM. Knowing this I think RIM should cross platform BBM. It will show everryone what they are missing. I think BBM connected apps should stay on the BB only, making it so that people will migrate to BB indtead of thoinking they have the best part of BB I don't need the rest.

thats the thing they won't be missing it if they get it and they for sure won't be buying a BB to get it if they already have it.

We often see the BBM cross-platform move as a way to give out a great feature to the competition. If we believe so aren't shooting ourselves in the foot ? I mean BB10 is so more than BBM now, it's stable, it's fluid, it's different, keeping BBM in-house would be the ultimate realization that without it BlackBerry has no reason to be around as a platform which is totally false. Put it the other way ... Why not use BBM has a marketing tool to keep the BlackBerry brand relevant, I mean whatsapp was imo the product of a great buzz among smartphone users looking for an alternative to BBM which was so big before, now that the table has reversed people would be ready to find a great alternative to whatsapp, an im which actually gives you status updates, read confirmation. RIM would be wise to use it that way imo, than to fool themselves thinking that BBM will be the only killer features that brings them back.

I agree with this article!
I think one of the reasons why I wouldn't mind switching away from blackberry is because there is no cross-platform for BBM. It is a fact that it has lost a lot of US market shares and along with that, I have lost 100% of my contacts. I have no use for BBM anymore, none of my friends have a BB. Blackberry is a lot more than BBM but if this was the feature that was to keep people - then for people like me, why should I stick with RIM?

Cross-platform BBM would have been a stupid idea, you would probably break even in the short term as people buying it for other platforms would have offset those people who didn't stick with a bb for it, but in the long term that would just be one less exclusive feature for your new platform and one less reason for people to return.

As somebody has mentioned, nearly as many bbm messages are sent on a struggling platform as the hugely successful cross-platform app, so this article just comes across as a slightly less negative variant of the kind of uninformed article you might see on a bgr or similar.

What good is BBM to me when none of my contacts use BlackBerries, anymore? I haven't used it for months and it has become irrelevant to me. I expect my phone to be a communications device. In its present form, BBM is a beautiful hammer looking for a nail. And yes, I had to resort to WhatsApp.

I think I know what BBM is but I don't have any use for it if I don't know anyone with a Blackberry, right?
just making sure, someone correct me if I'm wrong

nevermind, I just did my homework
Looks like I will start using BBM for SMS at least

I've been thinking of this theory for a while.

Make BBM (including video chat) available on other platforms (even pc's), but only use it to communicate with a blackberry user. i.e. allow communication between a blackberry and any other device.

just a wild thought, I wonder what this would do. (at least it would help users who lost contacts to other platforms who are now forced to switch away from BBM)

You charge a sizeable license fee and reap the additional awards your phone sales are in the crapper focus on being a software company that licenses its product and cut production costs you blow making 6 curves 3 bolds and 3 torches maybe then you could afford to put proper memory and storage space...

If RIM made BBM cross-platform it would help. It might give people the trust they once had with blackberry. I don't know anyone who says I'm staying with BB because of BBM. If BBM was cross-platform I think it would open the opportunity for people to consider BB once again.

The integration of BBM throughout the BB OS is amazing IMO. However, since BBM is linked to the device PIN, it would take RIM significant resources and time to bring it to cross platforms. Plus, I'm also afraid that if BBM was a cross platform message system and it took off, the two service disruptions in the past two years would do more harm to the BB brand than good.

The way to get around it is that BBM will be link to the BBID starting in BB10 so why not make an html-5 app on those non blackberry and force those users to sign on with a BBID, they'll already have a foot in the blackberry system.

I agree, and from what has been posted on the internet RIM is working on using the BBID instead of the device PIN. IMO, I believe that is the reason behind the delayed release of native BBM on Playbook. Then, the next question would be: Should BBM messages route through RIM's NOC? What is the business model - should non-Blackberry user pay a subscription fee (monthly/yearly) for the use of NOC? or RIM charges a one time purchase fee of the app?

Whatsapp is very popular, but I do have friends start exploring other options (i.e. XMS by eBuddy) because of a few Whatsapp service disruptions. My concern is if there is service disruption on BBM, what damage would it have on the Blackberry brand.

Even if RIM did allow BBM to be cross-platform, I can picture Apple coming up with a reason, pretty quickly, to not allow it in their app store.

Sadly BBM is no longer relevant as a major communication app. It has been drowned out by the many 3rd party apps out their. as much as the hard core bb users argue that bbm is integral to their device, the truth is if Rim would discontinue bbm and its support all of said users would move on to a 3rd party app. Bbm is nothing special anymore. Yes it has cool functions and is highly secure but other then security many of the other apps have it matched. This is a non starter really, and rim execs know this or else they would of cross platformed it years ago. What rim needs to do is come up with a new groundbreaking communications apps thats fresh and new. If thats even possible as their is much one can do with an im client.

Donr forget people on BlackBerry use whatsapp to use with their friends on other platform so we already got BlackBerry People using it..& we still have our in house BBM

I think making BBM cross platform would help my experience. I think its a great app, and I have 5 contacts of people I actually know...,.And those are the 5 people I know with a Blackberry. If I could use it with more people I'd enjoy it more.

I can defiantly say that BBM is one of the major aspects of BlackBerrys which keeps them relevant here in Jamaica. Without a doubt, Blackberry would fail here if it wasn't for BBM. It has already taken a Back seat for me about a month ago when there was a service outage for Blackberrys in Latin America. Although it wasnt RIMs fault, it lost anothe rBBM user that day when my friends and myself all started using WhatsApp.
Although i'm a BlackBerry Developer, i wish RIM didnt have to wait for BB10 to make some real change to their most valuable mobile aspect.

The idea of BBM being cross platform app could go both ways, success for the Blackberry and RIM name, because it is indeed a good product if not the best of its kind. But is could also lead to the lost in sale of handsets as more persons who held on to their BlackBerry just for BBM would now jump ship.

I would have been more likely to use BBM on my BlackBerry had it been available cross-platform. I intentionally didn't use it so I wouldn't be locked into an ecosystem. Now if BBM offered basic, secure text based messaging on all platforms, and extra features on a BlackBerry, then that'd be a selling point. I'd still use the extra functionality with other BB users, while just chatting via text with non-BB users. As is, I use WhatsApp or SMS exclusively.


My sense is BBM *is* going cross platform. Betcha big money. RIM understands closed systems die a lonely death. You heard it here first!!!

As for protecting their franchise, they will make BBM better using a Blackberry. Staying on the BB network has intrinsic advantages. So they will try to carve out the best of both worlds.

This conclusion came after a recent discussion with the Company. They did not come out and say this, but it was the only conclusion to draw based on what they told us.

You heard it here first!

All this talk about WhatsApp... what about Talkbox? It does walkie-talkie voice messaging, and text messaging. Plus it has BIS push for BlackBerry. And it's cross platform (BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android, iOS).

If you think about the messenger, it is transferred from the desktop. It is not the permanent competitive advantage for the Blackberry. It might help someone to choose the Blackberry over the iPhone or the Android if the Blackberry messenger is the cross platform. For innovation, the Blackberry messenger can incorporate the augmented reality.

- Rezaur Rahman

Hey guys, I have done research, had long debates with buddies from other platforms, spoken to friends in RIM's marketing and software department and after all the cumulative studies this is what I have found. The reason RIM hasn't opened BBM before is because BBM was Blackberry's best feature, when text messages were costly bbm provided the void with free messaging. Now, with unlimited text messaging that part of BBM's advantage is not as prevalent in North America. But there is a way and a future. I definitively think RIM should open BBM up to all other platforms but in a VERY SMART way. I have been pondering and working on this idea of how it would be best done and below is what I have come up with it.

Blackberry is confirmed to be creating BBM Video, which is a video chat application built and hosted on BBM servers. Also there will be BBM Cloud coming, where you can share videos, documents, calendars, and more with your other devices and your friends. Before the costs of text messages were what gave rise to BBM, now the costs deal with Data charges. Since BBM is hosted on RIM servers they don't incur any carrier data and therefore don't cost you anything. With BBM video and BBM cloud, its all going to be hosted on those same servers meaning no data charges incurred for BBM. This will be an amazing feature when opened up into iOS and Android. Facetime with friends from other platforms but don't get charged data for it, amazing just truly amazing.

Also, with the ability to use scoreloop through bbm, people can compete in apps cross-platform. I can race against my buddy who has an iPhone and get the scores on BBM Games (which is the game centre on blackberry 10). Finally RIM needs to make a BBM desktop client which will allow blackberry users to message, and even video chat from a laptop to a playbook or bb10, and access cloud documents, calendars and more.

But, you may think free facetime and chat will come out of RIM's pockets but here is the SMART catch I was talking about: Blackberry users can add android, iOS, and even windows friends. The other platform users will be able to have all 100% benefits at no cost BUT WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ADD EACH OTHER. Where as Blackberry Users can add everyone and have ALL the features, but iOS users can't add their iOS or Android buddies and vice versa. (RIM may charge iOS and Android users a monthly fee extra if they want to add each other, or take whatsapp model for them)

Downfalls: my buddy at RIM said the only problem with this plan is that opening up BBM that much will make it slightly less secure, but it will still be 2x better than whats our there. But its something to keep in mind.

Finally, allowing some of the features of skype has on its client and more, so multiple people chat for meetings if you have a blackberry will woo people to jump platforms. Doing this plan gives iOS and Android users a taste of how amazing BBM and blackberrry is and once BB10 comes with all the apps, the differentiating factor will once again be BBM to bring people back.

RIM heed...

BBM can't be compared to Skype. Skype is VOIP, MSN is an equivalent to BBM.

IF not cross-platform, BBM should be desktop accessible. That would be very attractive, killing MSN, and even Facebook Messenger.

The suggestions of a lower version of features and security would work cross-platform. Just keep BBM premium on BB. More features, more security.

The PIN is BBM's best feature, protecting privacy of phone numbers and emails..

Currently Hookt, and LiveProfile offer PIN's... RIM should acquire, and use THAT as cross-platform, killing competition.

A year + ago a cross platform BBM would have been a great idea. . .now. . .it's a horrible idea. . .oh well. . .

This doesn't make sense to me at all. Sorry. BBM having been cross platform would only had added to the defection rate. Many MANY more people have stuck with BlackBerry because of BBM than any other feature on a phone. The news articles would have been all over it accusing BlackBerry of making their most popular application available on other platforms since they can't sustain an audience and so on.

People didn't leave BlackBerry because they had less buddies to chat with, it was because the BlackBerry hardware and OS fell behind and the app ecosystem was lacking in a big way. That is why they left, not because they didn't have anyone to BBM with, is this seriously even being given thought?

Those of us who have stuck with BlackBerry have done so because (we feel) that there are things OTHER than BBM that our phones do really well and others don't do, or do it poorly by comparison. No our hardware specs are not great, our apps are lacking and often of less quality than the competition, our OS is less stable and less "flashy" than others, but clearly those all take back seat to what we as BlackBerry users like about our devices.

Anybody can say What If, but without BBM, blackberry wouldn't be that much blackberry.

Bbm (or bb10) on other hardware/platforms, then it'll be competing with itself. Not good.

I like BBM the way it is. On blackberry, same for blackberry 10 when it comes out.

Ifbbm was available on other platforms I would have switched ages ago, I have many friends with ios or Android main phone and bb payg just for BBM. I refuse to carry 2 phones so I'm waiting for bb10

It would have been a mistake to go cross platform and RIM knew this. BBM has grown somewhat stagnant because of the delay of BB10. One of the things I've always felt BBM should get is video chat, but that requires a front facing camera which we must wait for BB10 devices to get. In the meantime they still could have included audio chat (upgrade to voice notes) and a killer feature to communicate with family/friends overseas. As much as they've connected other apps/services into BBM, why haven't they done the opposite? Why can I not post a status update from BBM to FB or Twitter? That's one way they could have increased BBM usage.

Everyone I know that has stayed with BlackBerry was either for 1 of 2 reasons: BBM and Email. Everyone that I know that stayed for BBM usually carries an iPhone as well. So if RIM had taken BBM cross platform there is no way these people would have stayed with a BlackBerry.

I actually think it would be a good idea for RIM to go cross platform with BBM AFTER it has already established BB10 in the market. Once the buying public knows that BB10 is a viable alternative to iOS and Android and it has the apps that they left BB for then they could go cross platform. At that point then I think you would see the brand recognition benefits in the long run and have people actually move over to a Blackberry.

In my circles, nobody uses BBM or WhatsApp or any other IM service. Everyone uses texting because its the only safe bet that whoever you are sending the message to is able to receive it. I'd personally love for everyone to use an IM so I can drop my texting package, but that seems extremely unlikely to happen in the near future, so I don't even bother trying to use an IM.

If BBM were to go cross-platform, I would switch hardware as soon as possible. Seeing as how BBM was the sole reason I bought my 9780, the hardware specs are lightyears behind and I find my phone lagging sometimes even though I set my phone on a memory cleaning schedule once a day. Its ridiculous how slow the responsiveness of the browser is slow but I do love the data speeds even with 3G. I'm waiting for BB10 to have hardware capable of not just matching the devices that are currently out right now, but with hardware that can compete atleast a year down the line with the androids if not the iphone. As for the blackberry OS it's sooo unique and intuitive and I love it but I'm not seeing groundbreaking new features with the new OS. I don't find peek very useful and flow yeah sure maybe. And before the usual hating crackberry forums user starts to go bananas on me, this is just my opinion so please don't get rowdy about how I'm not a BB devotee.

One of the things I keep telling "defectors" is that BB10 is going to make them want to come back. I think that the time is right to release a cross-platform BBM to start facilitating that return migration. Remind former BBers, who left regretfully, just what they are missing and have them start looking back over the fence at BBland.

If they have ever done this move to make the BBM Cross-Platform they'll LOSE their sales on Blackberry Devices.. Simply the only thing that holde the Blackberries in my country is BBM, Without BBM, Mostly i can say 80% of those who have BBs here will throw away their BB for Android or iPhone... But MAYBE if they made the Blackberry have an advantage through BBM like making it Free or anything else it would make a balance, im not sure maybe even if they did that they'll lose it sadly.. They'll ofc Success having the Best Messaging app around the globe but in exchange they'll lose the sales f their BBs also ..

Tough decision to be made here