Business Insider Edition

BlackBerry Messenger will soon be the latest messaging service to die

Troy Wolverton , Business Insider US
 Apr 19, 2019, 08:38 PM
The back of the Blackberry Key2 (supplied)
The back of the Blackberry Key2 (supplied)
  • BBM, formerly known as BlackBerry Messenger, will be shut down on May 31.
  • Emtek, the company that now runs the messaging service, tried to revive it, but said that "users have moved on."
  • BBM users will need to download their photos and files from the service before it shuts down, because they won't be able to access them afterward.
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First AIM. Then Yahoo Messenger. Now BBM.

The messaging service that was once was a beloved feature of BlackBerry phones is going away, becoming the lastest in a line of formerly popular chat apps to get the ax.

Emtek, the company that runs the former BlackBerry Messenger service, will shut it down on May 31, the firm announced in a blog post on Thursday. Despite investing in new features, Emtek wasn't able to jump start usage of the service, it said.

"Three years ago, we set out to reinvigorate BBM consumer service," the company said in the post.

"We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date," it continued. "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."

After Emtek shuts down the service, BBM users will no longer be able to open the app to view old messages, photos, or other files, the company said on a page offering answers to frequently asked questions. Users will be able to download photos, videos, and files before May 31. But they won't be able to keep any stickers they've purchased or personalized emoji they may have created with the company's BBMoji service, it said.

Last decade, when BlackBerry devices were among the most popular smartphones, BBM served a similar role for the devices as iMessage plays on iPhones today. It was the default messaging service for BlackBerry devices and, because it was only available on Blackberry handsets, it was one of the primary reasons customers stuck with them.

But usage of BBM started to be overtaken by iMessage and other services after the iPhone and Android-based devices took over the smartphone market. Smartphone messaging leaders now include not just iMessage, but Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger, and WeChat.

To court users on other devices, BlackBerry later opened up BBM to owners of iPhones and Android phones. As recently as 2015, it said it had 140 million registered users on those non-BlackBerry devices. Emtek acquired the rights to BBM from BlackBerry in 2016.

BlackBerry held on to the enterprise version of BBM that it offers to corporate users. The enterprise BBM is still alive.

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