BBM, the once-popular app that helped propel the BlackBerry smartphone into one of the world’s most sought-after devices, is no more.
The app was shut down Friday by Emtek, the Indonesian media conglomerate, which acquired the BBM business in 2016 for US$207 million. Emtek said last month it planned to halt the BBM service and notified any remaining users to back up messages or data before it’s deleted for good.
While BBM’s end feels more like a whimper, it was one of the first mobile messaging apps to become enormously popular. It was added to the English Collins Dictionary in 2012 and helped usher in a wave a similar apps such as iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, all of which eclipsed the BlackBerry service years ago.
The company formerly known as Research In Motion launched BBM in 2005. It became a must-have app after users flocked to its ease of use, low cost, and instant delivery features. Its encrypted network – a key feature that appealed to privacy-conscious users – was featured prominently following concerns by several Middle Eastern countries and India in 2010 that some people using the app may be harming national security.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatened to ban BlackBerry devices entirely if they weren’t given access to the encrypted network, but later backed down after RIM agreed to deploy some servers in those countries. The company later attempted to generate revenue from a paid version of its BBM app, but due to the popularity of other messaging services it was later sold to Indonesia’s Emtek where its smartphone devices and BBM service were still in heavy use.
Those still needing their “CrackBerry” messaging fix can use the BBMe messaging app, an enterprise version of the BBM service that is free for the first year, but costs US$2.50 for a six-month subscription.