BlackBerry attempts comeback with new messenger app

A Langara College student uses his cellphone to communicate with a friend. Photo by Amy Jones
A Langara College student uses his cellphone to communicate with a friend.
Photo by Amy Jones

The new BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application received 20 million downloads in its first week but will it help the company in the long run?

The messaging app, which now works for BlackBerry, Android and Apple smartphones, is free to download.

Although it has proved popular so far, it remains unclear how it will help solve the company’s financial woes.

BlackBerry’s financial issues

BlackBerry reported a second-quarter loss of $965 million US earlier this year, largely due to poor sales of its new smartphones.

A plan to sell the company for $4.7 billion US to its biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, was abandoned earlier this week in favour of plans to raise $1 billion in fresh financing.

John Chen, who turned around struggling enterprise technology company Sybase before its $6 billion US sale in 2010, has been appointed the new CEO of BlackBerry.

Langara business student says app is a ‘fad’

Business management student Carlos Gonzalez is co-president of the Langara Business Association (LBA). He doesn’t think the new popularity of BBM will help BlackBerry survive their financial troubles.

“The BBM app is going to be a fad,” said Gonzalez. “People are going to jump on it but it’s going to get complicated.”

People will get lazy when they don’t have each other’s BBM pin numbers, he said.

Gonzalez explained the benefit of having a BlackBerry phone was the increased security of BBM messaging, but having the app on iPhone now links it to the Apple database which defeats the original security advantages.

“BlackBerry is going to be sold to another company,” said Gonzalez. “That’s what I think.”

Looking towards BlackBerry’s future

Emma Leigha Munro, design formation student, is co-president of the LBA with Gonzalez. She doesn’t see the point in getting BBM because she already uses WhatsApp Messenger and iMessage to communicate with people.

Munro agrees with Gonzalez about the app being a “fad” but also thinks it’s possible for the company to bounce back. However, “they’re definitely the underdog at the moment” she added.

Nursing student Fiona Chiu is more optimistic that BBM can compete with other messaging applications.

“My cousins say BBM is more reliable,” said Chiu. “Sometimes WhatsApp would lag.”

A lot of her friends, she says, have stopped using WhatsApp and started using BBM instead.

Reported by Amy Jones

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