June 1, 2019 3:39 pm
Updated: June 1, 2019 3:46 pm

BlackBerry BBM messaging app shuts down, consumers offered replacement service BBMe

The Blackberry logo located in the front of the company's B building in Waterloo, Ont. on Tuesday, May 29, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Ryan
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BlackBerry’s once very popular messaging service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has officially shut down.

Users of the service were signed out of the application on Friday as it ceased operation.

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A tweet posted to the BBM Twitter account Friday morning confirmed the service had “signed off.”

“Thank you for all the support and memories that you have spent together with BBM,” the tweet reads.

The Waterloo, Ont. tech firm unveiled BBM in 2005 in the early days of smartphones, and the application quickly gained popularity.

With a robust encryption system, the messaging service was attractive to users because it offered a safer, more secure alternative to texting.

However, as new instant messaging platforms emerged, BBM lost its footing.

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In 2016, BlackBerry partnered with Emtek, an Indonesia-based media conglomerate who took over operation of BBM in hopes of “reinvigorating” the application.

However, in April, Emtek announced it would be shutting down the consumer service BBM.

“Three years ago, we set out to reinvigorate BBM consumer service, one of the most loved instant messaging applications, as a cross-platform service where users can not only chat and share life experiences, but also consume content and use payment services,” Emtek said in a blog post April 18.

“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.”

A subsequent blog post from BBM posted on Friday said the service experienced difficulties in the competitive market and said it had been “squeezed out” of user preferences.

“While we respect Emtek’s decision, we’re disappointed the platform did not thrive and grow as expected,” Mark Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer at BlackBerry, said in a statement in April.

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However, in order to compensate for the end of BBM, BlackBerry decided to make their alternative service — geared toward large businesses — called BBM Enterprise (BBMe), available to download for Android and iOS users.

“After much consideration, we decided that BBM’s loyal users should continue to have a secure messaging platform that they can trust,” Wilson said.

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According to BlackBerry, BBMe offers users “secure and private text, voice, video and group chat,” and is compatible with BBM on BB10 and BBOS devices.

The BBMe application was made available to download in April, and can be used free of charge for a year. After that time it will cost users $2.49 US for six months.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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