Long before there was WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, there was BlackBerry Messenger. It enabled BlackBerry device owners to easily chat with each other and share content. The world has changed a lot over the past decade and BlackBerry is no longer the king of the phone market. It’s not even a player anymore and while it tried to keep BBM alive, it’s now admitting defeat on this front.
BlackBerry stopped manufacturing its own phones a few years ago. It licensed its brand name to TCL which now makes Android-powered, BlackBerry-handsets. The Canadian company did try to compete in the crowded messenger market by making BBM cross-platform and enhancing functionality, but clearly, that wasn’t enough.
The company acknowledges this much, saying that in spite of the substantial efforts it made to make BBM relevant again, users have moved on to other platforms. This also made it difficult to sign on new users since users are likely to flock to platforms that their friends and family are already using.
Thus it has decided to sunset the consumer BlackBerry Messenger service on May 31st, 2019. It has posted a FAQ page that provides more details about the shutdown. The shutdown doesn’t affect the enterprise version of BlackBerry Messenger which is a completely separate app.
BlackBerry’s involvement with Emtek, a licensee of its messaging technology, is being phased out. As a result, BlackBerry Limited today announced that it’s opening up the BBM Enterprise for individual use. The company says that this decision has been made “out of BlackBerry’s respect for loyal BBM users.” The BBMe app is available from the Play Store starting today and will be available from the App Store soon. It will be free for use the first year after which a six-month subscription will cost $2.49.