Remember BlackBerry Messenger? Well, its consumer version is scheduled to shut down on May 31. Emtek, the company running over the BBM app since 2016, has announced that it will end support for the once-popular messaging app at the end of May. But users who'd like to keep using it can — for a price.
Emtek said the number of users has dwindled over the past years despite efforts to revitalize it with services such as Uber hailing and video calling. There are simply far too many messaging apps right now, some more feature-rich and versatile than BBM, to warrant using an antiquated platform. But BBM served as the early version of popular choices today such as Messenger or WhatsApp. It offered a way for users to step away from messaging clients on desktop.
RIP BlackBerry Messenger
"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," Emtek said. "Though we are sad to say goodbye, the time has come to sunset the BBM consumer service, and for us to move on."
Released back in 2005, BBM shortly became the most popular mobile chat service that pulled people away from text messaging. However, 14 years is like an eternity in the world of tech; suffice it to say things are very different now, with lots of messaging options at the ready.
Although the consumer version of BBM is going away, dedicated BBM holdouts will still be able to download the enterprise version from the Play Store and App Store. However, it'll cost them $2.50 every six months. It comes with extra features such as encryption, message editing, and others. Emtek is offering a free year to encourage users to stay, but they'll have to pay up after that lapses. Given that dwindling users are the main reason why the app shut down in the first place, it's hard to imagine many will remain.
BlackBerry initially became very popular because of its convenience and cost-effectiveness on mobile devices. At the time when it was launched, phones had text message limits and it was usually cheaper to send messages via data. BBM also included features not possible with SMS. It was exclusive to BlackBerry devices, though. It launched on Android and iOS in 2013, but by then it was already too late; the world had moved on and there were plenty of messaging clients to choose from, more so now.