Maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe I feel like all of my friends were invited to a reunion for a high school that I didn’t attend. Regardless of how I feel about not taking part in the euphoric exchange of pins and QR codes earlier this week, BBM is DOA – dead on arrival.
I spent a chunk of time earlier this year researching why some social media apps succeed and why others fail. My research culminated into a presentation that I was fortunate to share a few times here in Toronto and as far as Vancouver. Peep it here:
BBM by my estimation is three years too late. Matt Burns of TechCrunch agrees with me that “if this was 2010, RIM launching BBM would have been viewed as a nod to open communication and a platform-agnostic product strategy.” In the time that elapsed, WhatsApp filled this vacuum to the tune of 350 million active users. Ellis Hamburger of The Verge is even more cynical than Matt and myself, claiming that “BlackBerry built an app for 2008. Welcome to 2013.” He scored the app 5/10 in his review. BlackBerry’s notoriously bad timing persists. I suppose old habits die hard.
Barriers To Adoption
A line-up? Seriously? As a matter of principle, I didn’t download BBM – I refuse to be part of the problem. Galen Gruman and Serdar Yegulalp of InfoWorld confirmed what I could intuit from an underlying problem masked as a cheap marketing gimmick: “BBM is awkward to set up, doesn’t connect well to your contacts, and at the end of the day offers the same basic IM functionality as everyone else – maybe even less at this rate.” Read through the full article for a breakdown of the clumsy set up process. BBM wasn’t ready for this a month ago, and they sure as hell aren’t ready now.
BBM is not designed for people. People don’t memorize random strings of characters. The review continues, “The app can send emails to people with a PIN; they then click a link that opens a browser to a BlackBerry service and sends an invite to the BBM app to connect the two users. That’s an inelegant and roundabout method.” No kidding. And let’s be real – people don’t scan QR codes. QR codes kill kittens, and BBM has the blood of more than 10 million innocent, adorable kittens to account for.
Do I really have to qualify this? BlackBerry as a company isn’t even fully onboard with BBM. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chief Executive Thorsten Heins is too focused on releasing a new phone and OS later this year. Meanwhile, the team at WhatsApp is focused on doing one thing, and one thing extremely well: building WhatsApp. They don’t have to worry about competing in the mobile hardware space or delivering shareholder value the way BlackBerry does. Jamie Condliffe of Gizmodo writes, in his obituary of the platform:
Now, BBM is languishing at the bottom of RIM’s to do list, with fewer users every day. All told, the future looks bleak if something doesn’t happen soon – a line we seem to use again and again when it comes to BlackBerry.
My buddies and I maintain an active WhatsApp group. When BBM went cross-platform earlier this week, most of my buddies jumped on the bandwagon and took every opportunity to taunt me while they waited in line for access, claiming “resistance is futile.” Guys, I hope that you’re enjoying your high school reunion. Please continue reminding me (in the WhatsApp group) of all the cool things that I’m missing out on. I regret that I couldn’t be there with you..I’m too busy hunting fish with a stick.