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RIP BlackBerry Messenger: Gone, but not forgotten

It's been a long time coming, but the day is finally here. BlackBerry will pull the plug on BlackBerry Messenger (the consumer version) at the end of the day today, and while we know you likely don't use it anymore, BBM was a big part of the past for many. It hasn't been the center of attention in a long time, and if we're being honest, people haven't really even talked about it all that much in the recent years thanks to apps like WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Slack, and more taking over. All of those apps are great, but the nostalgia around BlackBerry Messenger has me feeling a certain type of way.

I was a die-hard BlackBerry user 10 years ago; I bought every single one of them that came to Verizon. My first one was the BlackBerry 8703e (opens in new tab), which had the scroll wheel on the side and didn't even include a camera. Shortly after buying it I discovered BlackBerry Messenger (thanks to CrackBerry!), and it changed my life. I met some great people, found a passion for writing, and even met my wife on the platform. Seriously, when I say BBM changed my life, I 100% mean it.

You didn't have to give out your phone number to strangers, you had a PIN number that identified you and that was great at the time. At a time when carriers used to still charge for texts in bundles, it was great to be able to use another service to avoid paying extra each month. Over the years, BlackBerry added features like group chats, Channels, games, and more. At the time, BBM was king, and no one thought it was going anywhere. Then Apple announces the iPhone, Google introduces more Android phones, and the competition heats up. Much like the current "iMessage lock-in" that some people have today, that's how it was on BBM for me. I never wanted to leave my BlackBerry phone, because that meant giving up communication with all my friends that I spoke with regularly.

Fast forward a few years, mobile apps start getting better, phones are beginning to include crazier cameras, and the appeal to switch continues to grow. With apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger around that were cross platform, you could technically still talk to friends if you could get them to switch over. For what felt like an eternity, people asked BlackBerry to bring BBM cross-platform. We wanted BBM support on Android and iPhone so that we could continue those conversations regardless of our mobile choices, but it took BlackBerry too long.

Thanks for the memories, even if they weren't so great

By the time BBM finally made its way to other platforms, the allure was gone, people didn't seem to care about it much anymore, and no one wanted to switch back to it. Those who moved beyond BlackBerry (myself included) had already settled into a new messaging app, and didn't want to have to start over. Thinking back, though, it's clear that BlackBerry Messenger played a large part in evolving messaging apps into what they are today. Some of the best features of it made their way into other apps. The "Delivered" and "Read" indicators from BBM are available in both WhatsApp and iMessage, Group Chats are widely available, gaming is now something people do inside chat apps, and so much more.

When I think back about BBM, a quote from Fall Out Boy comes to mind: "Thanks for the memories even though they weren't so great." For all the things BlackBerry Messenger did great, there was a bunch of stuff that it never did well. You were locked into a single device to communicate, you couldn't transfer chats easily, moving your contacts from one device to another wasn't always a painless experience, and much more. I'm very thankful for everything that BlackBerry Messenger brought me, but I think it's time that it gets put to rest. All good things must come to an end, and it's that time for BBM. If you aren't quite 100% ready to give it up (hey, we aren't judging), you can sign up for BBM Enterprise, which costs just $2.49 for a 6-month subscription.

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.
17 Comments
  • BBM was the pioneer with it's messaging app with it's reads and delivery confirmations. Never liked the new BBM on BB10. Too bad they took to long to realize that they needed to open it up to other platforms.
  • This is a really sad day. BlackBerry really squandered this technology to the point where they closed it down today. It was ahead of it's time in so many ways. If you used it on a 9000, 9700, you knew how special it was at the time. So many friends and suppliers around the world used BlackBerries and BBM. And BBM voice, at the time, it was better than making a phone call. Crisp and clear. Jim wanted to use it across platforms but yet another in a series of bad decisions made them keep it BlackBerry only. Like so many here my smartphone life started with a BlackBerry. Today another piece of that history is gone and I am very sad about it.
  • Looks like they pulled it this morning since I can't get into it since then. Typical Blackberry. Can't be trusted to do what they say. I'm so done with them.
  • BBMe or BBM enterprise is alive and well, fully encrypted and without the junk bloat BBM became. It's free for a year. Do some research. 👍😎
  • They announced it like a month ago, it wasn't a surprise lol
  • A sad day indeed. Blackberry and BBM have in many ways been ahead of the curve but just couldn't make the right pivot at the right moment. I miss BB10 with its security, privacy and best gesture based OS I have ever used. BBM was such a joy for groups and messaging at the beginning! RIP
  • I'm with you on the BB10 gestures! 👍
  • I never used BBM much but I do miss bb10
  • I second that! Well, I did use BBM a lot back in the day, but I really do miss BB10
  • Author should have noted BBMe is free for the first year
  • Did BB ever have a leak or hack? I use WhatsApp, but it seems like any FB owned app has a leak every week.
  • I don't think they have ever had a leak or hack, but there was a time where several customers have lost connection for nearly a day.
  • Oh, BlackBerry Messenger! I never got to know you. When I got my BlackBerry Curve I had no one with BBM to talk to, and then, well, Whatsapp got big in Spain. As @IJKBB10 said, BBM was a pioneer for messaging apps. But, yeah, it was probably time to put it to rest.
  • Whose end of day, though... it did indeed still work until end of day in Singapore, where CMW (the company that operated BBM until it was acquired from BlackBerry).
  • BBM had lot of potential and should by all metrics have been one of the top tier messaging apps. But typically BlackBerry mismanaged it all the way. Giving it over to such a horrendous and incompetent company as EMTEK ensured its demise. BBMe is a brainfart and not a replacement. Too bad, what could have been... but now good riddance! 💩💩💩🖕🖕🖕 To BlackBerry, BlackBerry Mobile, TCL and EMTEK
  • BBMe has an interface that looks a lot closer to the one we all remembered from BBOS than the Android BBM that just shut down
  • I've used BBM since around 2006 and have continued to do so thanks to the fact that it finally went cross platform, have continued to use it via my S4, my first Android device. The new BBMe finally allows for the use on multiple devices, even on my Galaxy Tablet. Just as BlackBerry lost customers by getting into the apps game too late, it did so with BBM cross platform capabilities as well. I even had a BB PlayBook since it launched and the promise to run Android on it, which never materialized, killed it (it did bring about 7" & 8" tablets).