BBM: Great Expectations

In the spring of 2011 my favourite city saw a deluge of rainfall. The grey imposition of rain clouds changed my mobile communications. Not able to handle the weather anymore my little Blackberry phone gave up. No more phoning, no more texting and most importantly, no more BBM.

I switched to an Android phone, Nexus S to be specific, and I kept moving forward along with the trends in mobile communication. There were so many fun things that I could do with an Android phone. Practical things like stay more on top of my schedule and email with syncing my Google account and fun things like reading eBooks.

With my Android phone I kept looking forward, excited to see where mobile technology could take us. I had moved on from my Blackberry… but not completely. Every so often I missed the one feature that set Blackberry phones apart – BBM.

At the end of this summer I caught wind of BBM for Android. I felt like a child waiting for Christmas, grinning with excitement. I often checked to see when it would be released and made a list of all my friends with Blackberry phones (I thought I would start with those already using BBM).

September came and the expected release was, like other events in recent Blackberry history, complicated. A leaked version set things back a bit. Christmas was rescheduled for next month.

October 21, the app was finally released! Oh happy day! But there was a line up. After waiting in line for a day I logged in and got my BBM account all straightened away.

Now, a few days later, I’m not as excited as I was before the launch. Sure, there are all of the same great things that made me enamoured with BBM three years ago but there’s still more work to be done.

One thing to introduce is to have the screen rotate sideways along with the phone. Having a wider keyboard after rotating your phone has been standard for years with touch screen smartphones. To not have this feature is a sign of not designing your product in line with your customers’ expectations and ignoring the obvious capabilities of the technology.

Blackberry also needs to get to the bottom of the Google Play review fiasco. A lot of this problem involves Google and their willingness to help solve the issue but Blackberry can still implement initiatives that help potential users find authentic reviews. Maybe they could create a page with a list of reviews by tech websites and include the link on the Google Play listing for BBM. Even if the reviews aren’t entirely positive it can only help because currently it looks like Blackberry has tried to conflate the apps quality with fake reviews.

There is no doubt that BBM can help Blackberry stay alive and prove the majority of the tech world’s presumptions to be dead wrong. However, it will be an uphill climb to establish BBM as a multi-platform app capable of sustaining its creator

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