BBM, the chat app on BlackBerry phones, is finally shutting down.
A decade after its heyday, and after years of trying to lure people back into the once hugely popular messaging service, the company has conceded defeat and will shut it off—The service will be turned off on 31 May, leaving anyone still using it unable to do so.
That failure brought an end to the service that was many people’s first experience with the chat apps that have come to dominate the phone market. BBM for a brief period occupied a central part in the culture, and its hidden and easy conversations were blamed for events including the London riots of 2011.
“Three years ago, we set out to reinvigorate BBM consumer service, one of the most loved instant messaging applications, as a cross-platform service where users can not only chat and share life experiences but also consume content and use payment services,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date.”But users had gone elsewhere already and not enough users came back to the app to make it worth running it.
“The technology industry, however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on,” It ended with a sentimental note about the conversations that had been shared over the service.
“We are grateful for your support and wish to thank everyone, especially our users, partners, and employees, for being part of the BBM consumer service journey,” it concluded. “We hope you will cherish many fond memories of BBM consumer service that helped shape messenger platforms to become what they are today.” the company wrote.
As consumers moved away from BlackBerry and into iMessage, WhatsApp, and group chat platforms on social media, BBM’s relevance declined. It launched on iOS and Android in 2013 and later joined forces with Emtek in a bid to compete, but it never happened.
The BBM brand isn’t dead yet, BlackBerry still has its BBM Enterprise for Individual Use program, which would allow users to continue to use the firm’s servers for secure messaging without necessarily being part of a business. With apps like Slack being used for team messaging, and Messenger and WhatsApp offering encrypted messaging so secure even the Tories use it, it’s unclear just how long it’ll last—BBM Enterprise is made by BlackBerry itself. However, normal users can download it from the iOS and Android App Stores. The service is free for the first year, and then $2.49 (£1.98) every six months thereafter.
In a nutshell, the technology of yesterday has a huge influence on the technology of today and even the apps we use now will one day be sunset for the next generation of products. But the nostalgia of BlackBerry Messenger is tied up in the time when mobile devices were relatively new, the iPhone was not king, and data privacy concerns were much different. RIP, BBM.