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February 25 2014


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February 13 2014

BBM Update Adds Voice Calls, Channels, Dropbox And Location Sharing For iOS And Android Users
bbmA new update to the BBM apps for iOS and Android add a laundry list of anticipated features to the messaging platform. BBM Voice makes its first appearance on the Android and iPhone clients, allowing users to make direct voice calls to their BBM contacts via either Wi-Fi or cellular networks; BBM Channels provide message-board style group interactions around a particular topic, theme or personality; plus, users can now share location information with contacts via Glympse, and Dropbox files. Also new is one-click sharing, which makes it easier for users to send photos, documents, voice messages and other kinds of content to their network connections. The Glympse-powered location sharing lets people send their real-time current whereabouts, complete with timed data availability set by the user, so that you can let a business contact know where you are relative to their location if you’re running behind, but take away that access after say 30 minutes. There’s also expanded emoticon support, with 100 new ones added to help users perfectly convey their feelings without the need for pesky, hard to spell words. Many of these features are inherited from the existing set of capabilities of the native BlackBerry OS version of BBM, and were promised back when the app launched on iOS and Android last year. But they’re very welcome additions, and should help provide the network with value add incentives to draw in new users. BBM recently lost its top executive leader as Andrew Bocking departed BlackBerry, and now it seems likely he was hanging around to make sure this update shipped before taking his leave. BBM 2.0 shipping is a good sign for the messaging client, but its progress in terms of user growth since launch remains a bit of a question mark. These updates at least show that third-party platform development continues to be a priority for the company. Under recent executive shifts, BBM now falls under the purview of the Global Enterprise Solutions, division, so we’ll see how that affects consumer product efforts.

February 10 2014

BBM Chief Andrew Bocking Departs BlackBerry, Division Will Be Folded Into Global Enterprise Solutions
ThorstenHeinsAndrewBocking2-h1bBlackBerry had another high-profile executive departure today, as Executive Vice President of BBM Andrew Bocking has left the smartphone and enterprise software maker. Bocking’s exit was first reported by BGR, but BlackBerry confirmed the move to TechCrunch in an emailed statement, and explained that BBM’s new home will be in its Global Enterprise Solutions under John Sims. “Andrew Bocking, EVP, BBM has made the decision to leave BlackBerry,” BlackBerry said in its statement. “We thank him for his years of leadership and contribution.” The BBM EVP role won’t be filled by another candidate at this point, the company revealed to TechCrunch, and instead BBM will fall under the purview of Sims. BlackBerry says that this doesn’t mean that BBM product development falls by the wayside, however. “The BBM organization remains as a group within BlackBerry and will continue to focus on BlackBerry and BBM strength in messaging and new areas of strength such as mobile marketing, community-building and enterprise messaging,” they explained in a statement. “John Sims, President, Global Enterprise Solutions, who has extensive experience in mobile messaging, will add the BBM team to his organization.” Sims does indeed have prior mobile experience – he was SAP’s mobile lead before being hired by BlackBerry back in December, where he oversaw the sending and receiving of 1.8 billion messages per day according to a press release from April last year. The new home for BBM suggests it could possibly be focused more on the enterprise market, which might mean shying away from the consumer push that’s been going on recently. The iOS and Android apps were greeted with an enthusiastic response from users when they were launched last year, but we haven’t heard much about their progress since.

February 05 2014

BlackBerry Wants BBM Users To Have More Friends
THE_SUPERFRIENDS_(1973_-_1974)It’s hard to turn that D into an R if you ain’t got friends. It’s with that thought that BlackBerry just released a tool to find friends on BBM. The tool will scour your phone’s contact list for users currently on BBM, allowing the user to quickly send a PIN invite to other users. It will also allow for invites to be sent over SMS. BlackBerry claims this is a feature BBM users have longed asked for. While that’s probably true, BBM is also widely seen as on of BlackBerry’s last remaining options. It needs every user it can get and the best referral is a personal recommendation. Ever since it was released on Android and iOS, its messaging platform has seen notable gains especially in emerging markets where the BlackBerry platform already has a foothold. BBM is standing tall against the new kids on the block of Line and WhatsApp. BlackBerry isn’t slowing BBM’s roll, either. BBM v2.0 is hitting soon.

January 28 2014

BBM Is Coming To Gingerbread Android Phones
800px-HTC_Evo_4GBBM will soon be available for Android phones running Gingerbread. This is a shockingly brilliant move which allows BBM to fully compete in developing countries where BBM is already an established brand, but current smartphones are still running the legacy operating system. As Chris points out at Engadget, despite being generations old, Android 2.1.x Gingerbread still powers 21% of Android phones. A lot of those devices are located in emerging markets where new messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Line, and Facebook Messenger, are quickly gaining in popularity. Recent numbers suggest that BlackBerry cannot count on consumers in these markets, or any market for that matter, to jump on the BBM ship by buying one of its smartphones, so the company is making it available on competitors’ hardware. As the current version of BlackBerry sinks into obscurity, a new BlackBerry is emerging. For better or worse, this version seems a bit more lean and focused. Today’s update to BlackBerry OS 10 feels like a company clearing its current product pipe as it moves away from the cut-throat consumer hardware market. A public beta will be released prior to the full launch in late February.

January 17 2014

Even BlackBerry Thinks Windows Phone Is Too Small
Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 2.39.49 PMNews is out today that BlackBerry has no intention of bringing a BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) application to Windows Phone. Comments published in TrustedReviews from the company indicate that it deems Windows Phone too small to warrant the investment. TechCrunch confirmed the statements.

December 18 2013

BBM To Come Preinstalled On LG Smartphones
bbm-androidBlackBerry is keeping the hope alive with a partnership with LG. Announced today, the LG G Pro Lite will ship with BBM already installed on the smartphone. This comes two months after BBM’s Android and iOS launch. It quickly found footing, and following its launch, raked in 10M downloads in a day. BBM is still a small player in the messaging app game, but there’s no questioning that consumers have latched onto the platform. We all know the broad strokes: Research In Motion-turned BlackBerry is quickly dying. Its last-ditch effort in consumer hardware failed to revive the storied smartphone brand. But the company is still alive, albeit on life support. BlackBerry Ltd also announced today the hiring of former SAP mobile boss John Sims to lead its global enterprise business. This partnership with LG shows there could be a future for BlackBerry that doesn’t involve a bankruptcy court. The Canada-based company will never regain its share of the smartphone market, but there’s plenty of money to be made in enterprise infrastructure and global communication. BlackBerry announces its latest quarterly earnings on Friday. It should be a bloodbath.

December 05 2013

BlackBerry Messenger Directory Search App Lands On Android & Charts Uptick In BBM Interest
BlackBerry hardware may be languishing unloved on warehouse shelves but the company formerly known as RIM's long-in-the-tooth mobile messaging client, BBM, ain't dead yet. Indeed, it's enjoying a bit of revival. A directory app for BBM that's just launched its own Android app is reporting increased usage since BBM went cross-platform.

November 26 2013

Global Mobile Android/iOS Messaging App Map Dominated By WhatsApp - But BBM Bags A Foothold
The mobile messaging app landscape continues to be highly geographically fragmented, with different messaging services doing well in different global regions. Despite ongoing localised variety, messaging veteran WhatsApp remains dominant in multiple global regions, even as relative newcomer -- to Android and iOS -- BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), gets a foothold on the social chit-chat map of these two platforms.

October 23 2013

BlackBerry's Bad Timing Buries Its Own Flicker Of Good News On BBM Android/iOS Downloads (10M In A Day)
BlackBerry finally started rolling out its BBM messaging client to iOS and Android yesterday -- weeks later than originally planned, after a botched earlier attempt. And years late from a market point of view. All of which is bad enough, but yesterday was also the day Apple selected for its October iPad launch event... So hello highly unfortunate marketing clash.

October 04 2013

This Week On The Gadgets Podcast: Silk Road, Instagram Ads, BBM, And The Z30
An anonymous, underground drug trafficking web site Silk Road has been busted and the founder has been arrested, effectively shutting down a $1 billion+ revenue business after two years. And in softer tech news, Instagram has revealed plans to put ads in the stream over the next couple months. Meanwhile, BlackBerry continues to be in shambles, with BBM for Android and iOS delayed and the Z30 reportedly not going on sale in the company's home country of Canada on Rogers.

September 30 2013

BlackBerry Claims BBM Is Still Coming To Android And iPhone, But Has Given No Timeline
Amid dire financial results and an oddly-timed smartphone launch, BlackBerry's big BBM for iPhone and Android launch seemed lost in a murky grey purgatory with little chance of escape with each passing minute its release was held up. The app made it to some lucky New Zealand and Australian App Store users, but BlackBerry halted the rollout when a leaked Android .apk set its servers on fire. Today, it finally provided an update on the state of the balked launch – sort of.

September 26 2013

BlackBerry Will Release A Painful-To-Use BBM App For Desktops
Despite its recent acquisition, BlackBerry announced it will be releasing a desktop BBM app at BlackBerry Jam Asia 2013 this week. Unfortunately, the long-overdue app leaves much to be desired. BBM will come to desktops, starting with Windows-based PCs. Since the bulk of BlackBerry’s core customers were enterprise clients, these customers spent a lot of time behind their desks. This release should have come way earlier. But even more striking, the desktop implementation of the messaging service is awful. After installing the app, users will have to link their phones with their computers, probably through Wi-Fi. If you’re in a coffee shop and want to send a quick message from your laptop, you’ll first have to find a way to connect your phone to your computer. It’s the PlayBook nonsense all over again. Messaging someone should be ubiquitous and effortless. You shouldn’t have to wonder whether your phone is still turned on to send a message from your computer. Some applications allow you to send text messages from your computer. But the point of BBM is that it’s not SMS — it’s supposed to be better. Moreover, BBM messages go through BlackBerry’s servers, just like Facebook messages, iMessages, WhatsApp messages, etc. And these other services don’t reroute all your messages through your phone. That’s why limiting BBM to one device at a time is a serious flaw that should have been fixed. Many people have a phone, a tablet and a computer and want to use the same services on those three devices. In its current implementation, that’s not possible without a dirty hack for BBM. Due to multitasking limitations, iOS users will even sometimes need to relaunch the app to deliver the desktop messages — that is, if BlackBerry can fix their servers and actually launch BBM for iOS and Android. There is no release date yet, and the company only showed the Windows version at the conference. WhatsApp doesn’t have a desktop client, so you might say that BBM’s release is better than nothing. But BBM for desktop 2.0 will have to be more than a simple interface that redirects your messages to your phone. For now, it’s just an empty shell.

September 22 2013

BBM's Android And iOS Launch Weekend Going About As Badly As Possible
BlackBerry trumpeted its intention to deliver the long-awaited Android and iOS versions of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service this weekend, and so fans around the world eagerly awaited the mobile software's debut. But debut the apps didn't, at least not as intended and not for the vast majority of expectant fans.

September 18 2013

BlackBerry To Cut Up To 40% Of Staff By Year's End
Hey BlackBerry fans, here's a bit of good news: BBM will officially land on Android devices starting on September 21, with the iOS version going live the next day. Hey BlackBerry employees, here's a bit of bad news: there's a decent chance that you or some of your co-workers are going to lose their jobs. Those two stories broke within minutes of each other today, and together they paint a peculiar portrait of a company that was once the de facto ruler of the smartphone roost.

August 27 2013

BlackBerry Reportedly Considering Turning BBM Into Spinoff Subsidiary, Which Explains Cross-Platform Launch
In a move that should surprise exactly no one, BlackBerry is said to be thinking about spinning off BBM into its own subsidiary company called BBM Inc., says the Wall Street Journal. As BlackBerry faces the prospect of potentially having to part out its more valuable assets for sale, BBM is a natural opportunity that comes to mind, and the recent decision to take the messaging platform to both iOS and Android makes a lot more sense once you consider that a means of fluffing the brand prior to a potential sale.

August 22 2013

Blackberry Posts User Guides for iOS & Android Versions Of BBM Ahead Of Launch
The launch of BBM for iOS and Android appears to be imminent, as BlackBerry has accidentally published user guides for its forthcoming mobile messaging apps to its own website: here (iOS) and here (Android). The guides explain in detail how the apps function, how to get started, and their various feature sets. For previous BBM users from BlackBerry, most of these details are familiar. The apps are designed to allow for real-time communication between contacts and groups, the guides explain, letting users share pictures and messages, including broadcast messages, multi-person chats, and group chats. Users will also be able to create BBM Groups, where they can plan events, track to-do’s, share photos, and chat with up to 30 people at a time, without the need to add everyone as BBM contacts. BBM will work over both cellular and Wi-Fi, the latter option which is meant to help avoid data charges when traveling. Each user can establish their own BBM profile, where they can choose a display picture, name, and status that their contacts will see, and they’ll also have a unique BBM PIN which they can access by tapping “Show Barcode.” The apps will also include support for various emoticons and emoji, but because the guides don’t include screenshots, we’re not able to see a preview of what these or any of the features look like in more detail. We already knew BBM was to arrive on iOS or Android globally this summer, as CEO Thorsten Heins announced the news at the BlackBerry Live conference in May. The company also began sending out beta invites earlier this month. This is a major move for the struggling company, as BBM has for a long time been one of Blackberry, and the BB10′s, strongest features. At launch, Heins had said that only messaging and group features will be available, but promised that the rest of BBM will eventually make its way to the Android and iOS versions including screen sharing, BBM voice, and the newer BBM channels. The question now for the company is whether it’s too little, too late. Today’s app stores have become saturated with a plethora of mobile messaging apps for users to choose from, including Skype, Whatsapp, KakaoTalk, Kik, Viber, WeChat, LINE, Facebook Messenger, Tango, Snapchat, MessageMe, Path, Voxer, Google Hangouts, and many others. Blackberry is banking on its brand recognition and history in the messaging space, but the large majority of

August 06 2013

Samsung Teases BBM For Android As BlackBerry Further Telegraphs Its BBM Platform Play
Samsung is using the upcoming launch of BBM for Android to promote its Galaxy devices, Samsung App Store and Messaging Hub in a new release targeting the African market. BlackBerry is in on the push, with the two entering into an agreement to jointly market the service to African mobile customers. It's a hint at what BlackBerry wants to do with BBM, now that it's opening access to its proprietary messaging platform.
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