BlackBerry Messenger or BBM, which once dominated the world of instant messaging in an era before WhatsApp took over will be shutting down. BlackBerry had licensed BBM to Emtek in 2016, confirmed that Emtek was ending its service for the BBM consumer service. BBM for consumers will officially shut down on May 31, 2019.
The company has announced that in its place it will offering BBM’s enterprise version for individual customers, though it will come with 6-monthly subscription fee of $2.49. The BBMe app will be available on Android’s Play Store from today with Apple’s App Store to get the app later.
BBM was once the leading messaging service in the world. It was launched in 2005, but was initially restricted to just BlackBerry devices. BBM users initially were an exclusive club, and the messaging service had several advantages, and users needed the secret BB pin to talk to someone on the service.
However, the rise of WhatsApp and other messaging apps which coincided with popularity of Android phones in the market, meant BBM was soon losing users. BlackBerry later introduced BBM on Android and iOS in 2013, but that was not enough for the messaging platform to stand out.
WhatsApp in particular grew significantly and was later bought by Facebook in 2014 for nearly $19 billion. WhatsApp has now crossed 1 billion users worldwide.
BlackBerry announced that the BBMe app, which is an enterprise-grade end-to-end encrypted messaging platform will be available for individual use. According to BlackBerry, this decision was to help “loyal BBM users”, not because of a contractual obligation.
“While we respect Emtek’s decision, we’re disappointed the platform did not thrive and grow as expected.After much consideration, we decided that BBM’s loyal users should continue to have a secure messaging platform that they can trust,” Mark Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer, BlackBerry said in a press statement.
In blog post, BlackBerry has admitted that users had moved on to other platforms and new users have not really signed onto the app. “Though we are sad to say goodbye, the time has come to sunset the BBM consumer service, and for us to move on. 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,” the blog post said.
In a separate FAQ, BlackBerry says that users will be able to download photos, videos and files shared through BBM before the service is closed down. However, their contacts or feeds cannot be exported from the BBM application. Once BBM shuts down users will not be able to open BBM app on their device or see any old or new messages, or retrieve asset files, says the page.