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It seems like most of the world is against Blackberry these days. There is no disputing the fact they have had a bumpy ride the last few years, mostly due to their own lack of vision and complacency in a fast changing market.

BBM (Blackberry Messenger) is their latest attempt to grab our attention. I really hoped it would succeed but once again they got it wrong!

Blackberry was massive. It was the choice of Corporates around the globe, offering instant, secure emailing to the world of suits. Then came the teenagers who embraced the instant messaging. Blackberry was on a big high. While it basked in the top spot others came along and whipped the carpet out from under their feet. Now there is serious competition yet Blackberry have taken far too long to produce anything worth bothering about.

Fast forward to BBM - their flagship instant messaging product. It was once exclusive to BBs however Blackberry told the world that BBM was coming to iPhones. In August 2011 I blogged about the battle for your text messages and BBM for iOS was announced then!

Here we are in October 2013; Blackberry have taken just over two years to deliver the product to the iPhone and Android. That is a serious development cycle and during that time the competition has moved faster!

I personally wanted BBM to work; the rest of the world seemed to have written it off. Blackberry have a strong understanding of secure, reliable instant messaging and a global infrastructure to support it.

My disappointed in BBM is overwhelming and I am amazed at how far off-base the product is. Here are my thoughts:

  • BBM works on your phone. That's it. No support for tablets; no desktop app; no web interface. In a world where so many people have multiple devices and are so well connected, who at Blackberry thought this restriction was a good business decision?

  • It only works on one phone! To be honest this one is not the end of the world. Most people only have one phone, however there are people with two and being able to run BBM on both would be handy (both accessing the same messages)

  • No video calling; no voice calling; no video sharing; no contact or location sharing. These are all in the native version of BBM so why are they not on the cross-platform release?

  • To chat with others on BBM you share a PIN -- a uniques number for your device. So if I want to chat to a friend I first need to message him/her using some other method, or call, and ask for their PIN. Surely we should be able to look these up then send a request via BBM to link up?

  • The interface is irrational. As an example, half the screen on the Andorid is taken up by the keyboard (which is normal) then BBM has four huge icons. These could be smaller and elsewhere on the top of the screen. Absurdly they have given us a 'back' button; totally unnecessary as there is one already on the device! Did the interface designers actually consider the different mobile operating systems or simply shoehorn their native design onto others.
Do we really need two back buttons?

Do we really need two back buttons?

Blackberry have had over two years to churn out something worthy of use, yet they deliver half a product. They say most of the other features are coming soon -- do they seriously think their diminishing market is prepared to wait even longer?

So what about the competition? The list is long but here are a few front runners:

iMessage. Apple's messaging solution available on all Apple devices. No web interface or cross platform support.

Hangouts. Google's latest incarnation of its messaging suite. Available on Android, iOS and via the web.

WhatsApp. One of the most popular independent instant messaging apps, it is available on Android, iOS, Windows, Nokia S40, Symbian, and Blackberry phones. No web interface.

Google Hangouts is probably the closest to a true multi-platform, multi-device solution. It does however need to get a Windows mobile app out there.

Apple's iMessage will remain closeted in the world of iOS.

WhatsApp will fail unless it embraces tablets. It is one of the most requested features on WhatsApp and yet they continue to say they have no plans to add tablet support. WA is a truly great, robust product but it is crying out for tablet/multi-device support.

BBM will, I believe, fail. This is a catastrophe as they have had ample time and loyalty to get it right.

These are my opinions -- what are yours?

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