NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 24th, 2014

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) finally headed to Windows Phone; will debut this summer

Dis­pelling recent reports in the tech blo­gos­phere to the con­trary, Black­Ber­ry announced this morn­ing that it is work­ing to bring BBM, Black­Ber­ry’s pop­u­lar and increas­ing­ly cross-plat­form mobile-to-mobile mes­sag­ing ser­vice, to Win­dows Phone, in part­ner­ship with Nokia. BBM will also be present on Noki­a’s new Android-based Nokia X smart­phone plat­form when it launch­es in a few months.

“BBM con­tin­ues to grow in pop­u­lar­i­ty as mil­lions of peo­ple use our mobile plat­form for chat­ting and con­nect­ing with friends or col­leagues, and we are very excit­ed that we will soon wel­come Win­dows Phone and Nokia X users to the BBM com­mu­ni­ty,” said John Sims, Pres­i­dent, Glob­al Enter­prise Solu­tions at Black­Ber­ry in a state­ment.

“Today marks an excit­ing moment for Nokia,” agreed Bryan Bini­ak, Vice Pres­i­dent and GM of Devel­op­er Rela­tions, Nokia Cor­po­ra­tion. “By bring­ing BBM to the Win­dows Phone and Nokia X com­mu­ni­ties, our cus­tomers will be able to expe­ri­ence this pop­u­lar glob­al mes­sag­ing app.”

BBM, which is short for BlackBerry Messen­ger, was first intro­duced by Research in Motion (now Black­Ber­ry Lim­it­ed) sev­er­al years ago as a secure and pri­vate mobile-to-mobile mes­sag­ing ser­vice for Black­Ber­ry users, build­ing on the ear­li­er PIN mes­sag­ing capa­bil­i­ty includ­ed in the com­pa­ny’s hand­sets.

(A PIN is an eight-char­ac­ter per­son­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber con­sist­ing of let­ters as well as num­bers. Each Black­Ber­ry hand­set is assigned its own unique PIN at the time of man­u­fac­ture, in addi­tion to indus­try-stan­dard iden­ti­fiers).

BBM has always uti­lized the PIN sys­tem. In the Black­Ber­ry uni­verse, PINs are the equiv­a­lent of screen names. They’re akin to pub­lic keys. If you know the PIN of the per­son you want to chat with, you can send an invi­ta­tion (or friend request, in Face­book par­lance) to him or her. If he or she accepts the invi­ta­tion, you’re then con­nect­ed, and it becomes pos­si­ble to ini­ti­ate and car­ry on a con­ver­sa­tion.

In its ear­ly days, BBM could only be used for two-way text con­ver­sa­tions. But Black­Ber­ry has since added a lot of new capa­bil­i­ties to BBM, includ­ing groups, chan­nels, attach­ments, inte­gra­tion with oth­er appli­ca­tions, voice call­ing, video chat + screen shar­ing, and as of last week, stick­ers through the new BBM Store.

BBM is supe­ri­or to text mes­sag­ing in many ways. It works over Wi-Fi, it’s total­ly inde­pen­dent of mobile tele­phone num­bers, and there is no one hun­dred and six­ty char­ac­ter lim­it. Most impor­tant­ly, mes­sages are con­firmed as deliv­ered (D) when they land on the recip­i­en­t’s device, and con­firmed as read ® when opened by the user. The D’s and the R’s alone make BBM extreme­ly use­ful.

Last May, at the final Black­Ber­ry Live con­fer­ence, the com­pa­ny announced it was tak­ing BBM cross-plat­form, and would make the ser­vice avail­able to iOS and Android users in the fall. High antic­i­pa­tion and a leaked ver­sion of the app messed up the ini­tial launch plans, but Black­Ber­ry ulti­mate­ly got the roll­out back on track and BBM saw a huge num­ber of down­loads in its first few days.

On non-Black­Ber­ry phones, new BBM users are assigned a PIN when they launch the app, since they don’t have a Black­Ber­ry hand­set with a pre­as­signed PIN.

Black­Ber­ry has con­tin­u­al­ly sought to improve the BBM expe­ri­ence on iOS and Android plat­forms since the launch last fall. BBM 2.0 for those plat­forms debuted ear­li­er this month, improv­ing the fea­ture par­i­ty with BBM for Black­Ber­ry hand­sets by intro­duc­ing BBM Voice and BBM Chan­nels.

In addi­tion, Black­Ber­ry recent­ly fig­ured out how to make BBM avail­able to peo­ple still stuck on Gin­ger­bread (the Google code name for an old­er incar­na­tion of Android). Now Black­Ber­ry is con­quer­ing the next fron­tier by bring­ing BBM to Win­dows Phone. It’s a very smart move and it will give true mean­ing to the slo­gan #BBM4All, which the com­pa­ny uses on Twit­ter.

It would be nice to see BBM debut on the desk­top lat­er this year as well. Cur­rent­ly, BBM only works on hand­sets and on Black­Ber­ry’s Play­Book tablet (when the Play­Book is bridged to a Black­Ber­ry smart­phone).

Since Win­dows Phone is get­ting BBM, maybe Win­dows (and hope­ful­ly Mac and GNU/Linux dis­tri­b­u­tions) won’t be too far behind.

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2 Comments

  1. Good of Black­Ber­ry to not dis­crim­i­nate against Win­dows Phone users.

    # by Jamie Waleo :: February 24th, 2014 at 7:16 AM
  2. I’m still a faith­ful Black­Ber­ry user and I hope they con­tin­ue to offer great hand­sets.

    # by Tracie Symonds :: March 4th, 2014 at 2:19 PM