BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is officially shutting down! Emtek, an Indonesia-based company which had taken over the development of BBM consumer version in 2016, announced that it will be winding down the messaging service on the 31st of May 2019. In light of Emtek’s announcement, BlackBerry has stated it is releasing BBM Enterprise (BBMe) for the individual users. The Android version of the BBMe is already available for download, whereas the iOS version will be coming soon. BlackBerry Messenger once used to be one of the most popular messaging apps in world and a key feature of the BlackBerry devices. It was later introduced on Android and iOS platforms, but its popularity dwindled as competing chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger gained momentum.
Emtek blamed the difficulty of bringing new users to BBM as one of the reasons why it is closing down the service. BlackBerry Messenger will continue to remain functional until the end of May 2019, after which the app will cease to operate.
BBOS or BlackBerry 10 users will not be affected as BlackBerry continues to manage BBM for the platform, but they won’t be able to send and receive messages from BBM for Android/ iOS users after Emtek shuts the app down.
Following Emtek’s decision, BlackBerry has decided to step in, and the company revealed in a press release that it is bringing BBM Enterprise to the individual users. The service was earlier limited to the company’s enterprise customers. BBMe is now available as a free download from Google Play Store and it will be coming to Apple App Store soon.
BBMe will be free to use for the first year, following which the users will have to buy a six-month subscription at $2.49 (approximately R35). Given that BBMe includes built-in enterprise-grade end-to-end encryption, which is not available in BBM consumer version, the subscription may be worth price for avid BBM users.
BlackBerry said in a statement: “This decision [to release BBMe for individual users] was made out of BlackBerry’s respect for loyal BBM users and was not a contractual obligation.”