It’s no secret, BlackBerry is in free fall. Before the iPhone was launched RIM handsets were the most popularly consumed smartphones. Major selling points were the efficiency of email, reliability and – of course – BlackBerry Messenger. The free IM client which sent messages, images and voice notes across continents for no extra cost was a huge selling point. Even now – in the UK at least – young teens carry their Curves around BBMing each other all day, every day knowing there’s no chance of a huge bill at the end of the month. Then, Apple dropped a bombshell – iMessage.
Initial response was “hey, they’re copying BlackBerry!” That may be the case, but, Apple’s done a much better job with it. Here’s why:
1. No Separate App
Today, the number 1 question from my friends recently adopting iOS 5 is “where’s the iMessage app?” (One called it “iText” – needless to say, I shouted at him a little.) So used to the culture of BlackBerry’s BBM client, people expect the same from Apple. BBM can be complicated and long-drawn out affair, especially when you consider that all you want to do is send someone a short message. First, you have to make sure your BlackBerry service is up and running, then download the latest app market/world. Every time I update my Blackberry to a newer model, I spend longer than necessary just getting these services up and running. With iMessage you just enter your messages app as usual, and send a text the usual way. No fuss.
2. No messing around with PINs.
Once you have BBM installed you can’t just send someone a message, you need their PIN. So, you invite them to be a contact on the messenger and wait for a response. This – in my experience – can take days, especially if that person has never used it before. My parents both had BlackBerrys for years before I introduced them to BBM. After a long back-and-forth with them via text, they finally got set up, and they still forget to use it – reverting back to just sending a text message instead. With iMessage, all you need to do is send a message. If your contact also has iOS 5 it detects it and sends an iMessage. You don’t have to do anything. That alone should be reason enough, but there’s more.
3. Not stuck to one type of device
BBM is only great if you have a RIM-made smartphone. There’s no other way to use it – yet. Even BlackBerry’s Playbook needs to be tethered to a phone to work. Of course there have been rumors of the BlackBerry messaging service making its way to Android and iOS, but it’s not here yet. iMessage will work on any iOS device running iOS 5. This is a massive number of devices. Millions upon millions of consumers have purchased an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhones over the past 2 years, and all will be able to use iMessage.
4. iOS is very popular
With RIM’s market share dropping so fast, BBM’s potential usability is taking a hit too. Simply put – there are less people to message. With iOS holding a 44% market share (including iPods and iPads) there’s a massive network of people with the ability to iMessage.
Let me know your thoughts on this. These are clearly my own, and there could be many reasons why you think BBM is better. Is it safer? Does having a QWERTY keyboard make it an easier task to actually type messages? Are you a die-hard BlackBerry fan? Comment below, or tweet me: @TiP_Cam