BBM (which stands for Blackberry Messenger) for the unfamiliar was one of the first texting apps (that I remember and used) available that used data. As the name suggests it was exclusive to Blackberry handsets, each phone came with a Pin that you would use as an identifier to allow friends to add you.
In my opinion the BlackBerry Bold 9000 (pictured above) was awesome. It wasn’t the first smartphone I had owned and it really wasn’t the best, but my god did I feel cool using it. I’d bought it when Blackberry phones were still considered businessy-type phones and were just edging into the consumer view. I think what made them so attractive to consumers was the BBM feature, which was quite honestly a killer feature at the time. No other phone supported native communication between the phones in their range. Texts were great! But the great thing about a BBM was that you could see when the recipient received and read your message! Revolutionary It was easy to see who was ignoring you, no more could they claim that their phone didn’t receive the message or that their phone.. had.. and there was a cat… All lies were off the table!
I know it’s hard to imagine a world before all the messaging apps that we now have available to us, I personally use two.
Kakao Talk is a Korean Messaging app that is really popular with my Korean friends, and so to keep in contact with them my fellow foreign exchange students have downloaded the messaging app. It’s so so cute, with stickers, animated emoticons, adorable themes and best of all you can gift stickers and smileys to your friends. It’s really bright a cheery, so you feel bright and cheery while using it. I have about twenty people on my list, about half that I speak to fairly regularly.
It’s a very easy set up, you link the app to your phone number, then you create an account so that if you change numbers or phones (as I have) it allows you to resync all your contacts and conversations. Friends add you through a username that you pick. You can send pictures, or group them into an album with friends. It has an okay voice chat service at times is much better than Skype mobile, which isn’t hard to fo! You can play games, set events, have group chats, connect with Korean celebrities, there’s a lot of functionality in the program.
Kakao is a little too cute for my Western friends who inevitably raise their eyebrows at me for suggesting they use such a childish program. I’ll be honest, it’s hard getting anyone to switch to using a different app, because they’ve built up a network of friends and to communicate with them they’ll have to get those friends to switch over too. So if I wanted to communicate with my friends here, I had to use what they use.
That app is Whatsapp. It is the closest app to BBM that I know of, I think that’s probably what helped make it so popular. It’s quite easy to use like Kakao you link it to your phone number and it populates your friends list with people who have downloaded the app. No super cutesy emoticons, but they’re all free!
I only use two, but there are hundreds (if not more) of apps just like these in the marketplace right now. When BBM what first a thing it was cool and it was pretty much the only one that was widely used. It’s major problem was that it was only attached to Blackberry phones and once RIM (the company behind the phones) couldn’t convince consumers to keep buying their products they switched over to other brands. The time to make BBM an app for all mobile OS’ was then, when consumers were switching. Now that everyone has switched, solidified their friends list and have really no reason to switch they bring out BBM for all. RIM seem utterly desperate at this point to garner any kind of consumer loyalty and it seems like all their moves so far have just been awful and reactionary. For proof of that I point to their two biggest failures in my mind, the Blackberry Storm and the Blackbery Playbook.
Cliff Watson makes an excellent point in his post, “Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly.” The market is incredibly fragmented right now. There used to be a time where everyone was on MySpace and you weren’t anyone if you weren’t on Facebook. The time of the dominant social media outlet is soon passing as people find that they engage with people in different ways in different places. I think that scares people, but I think it’s great. It means Advertisers have to work harder for our attention, means that creative have to get more creative, hopefully it means once they do those things consumers will appreciate all that extra effort.
Or install Adblock. Whatever.