BlackBerry Messenger, now known as BBM, the chat service that once dominated instant messaging in South Africa and several other markets around the world, will soon be no more.
Indonesia’s Emtek Group, which acquired the licensing rights for BBM from BlackBerry in 2016, has said in a blog post that it will end the consumer version of the software at the end of May. BBM, which Emtek made cross-platform — it had previously only worked on BlackBerry devices — fell out of favour as the BlackBerry smartphone star waned and as consumers turned to increasingly to Facebook’s WhatsApp instead.
In South Africa, mobile operators also withdrew their low-cost unlimited BlackBerry-specific data plans, significantly undermining interest in BBM.
The software, which was launched in 2005, remained exclusive to BlackBerry devices until about five years ago, when versions were made available to iOS and Android smartphone users. However, the decision to go cross-platform came too late to save BBM.
In a statement, Emtek Group said it had “set out to reinvigorate the 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”.
‘Sad to say goodbye’
“We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date. 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 said.
“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.
“We hope you will cherish many fond memories of BBM consumer service that helped shape messenger platforms to become what they are today.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media