Categories: App Corner, Devices

RIM shouldn’t kick itself over iMessage

*Note: I use my BlackBerry on a T-Mobile plan that allows all-you-can-eat email and BBM whilst roaming for just $20 a month*

As any BlackBerry user will know, one of the best features about RIM’s device – barring the stellar keyboard – is BlackBerry Messenger, which allows people to communicate with other BlackBerry users for free, anytime, anywhere through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Indeed, many BlackBerry users stick with the device purely because no other phone or OS has offered any kind of viable replacement for BBM, especially while traveling abroad where data charges are expensive, but BBM remains free and utterly usable. Case in point, I spent the last two weeks traveling across Europe and Asia, used BBM every single day and have not a cent extra on my phone bill. Count me a happy customer, RIM.

Which is why I fail to comprehend the sheer exuberance over Apple’s newly announced messaging system iMessage. It is indeed similar to BBM in that it’s proprietary and works only for people using the same OS – one of BBM’s failings, if you ask me – but it doesn’t seem to have the advantage of being globally usable for no extra cost.

Try leaving your Apple iPhone open while 3G roaming in Taiwan for a week and see what kind of bill you get. Just try it. I dare you. And sure, it works on Wi-Fi, but who cares, so does Google chat. The main benefit of BBM is that it uses BES, and as such, does not add dollars on to your data bill. Same with email. BlackBerry users enjoy unlimited free email abroad thanks to BES, while Apple users are constantly on the hunt for a McDonalds with WiFi, like junkies looking for their next hit. It’s actually quite amusing to watch.

Also, touch-screen keyboards have to be one of the most annoying platforms to use when it comes to rapid messaging – I’ll stick to my physical keyboard any day, thanks.

So while the Engadgets and Apple fanboys/girls of the world will try to spin this as being a massive blow to RIM, I’m actually not sure it is at all. Also, RIM now has until October – when iOS5 is officially released – to make its fabulous BBM service cross platform and stop Apple in its tracks.

Will the Canadian company do it? I don’t know, but I have all my fingers crossed.

No Responses to “RIM shouldn’t kick itself over iMessage”

  1. boonies says:

    Umm…you mean you need an unlimited international blackberry data plan before you can get connected to BES overseas? iphone has similar plan (from att), so where’s the extra cost of being on imessenger over bbm???

    • Sylvie Barak says:

      it’s not an unlimited plan. it’s a $1 a day (roaming) addition to my plan which allows all I can eat email and BBM. Have never heard of anything that cheap or useful from AT&T on an iPhone. indeed, my colleagues see HORRIFIC bills every time they get home from a foreign country with their iphone. I see the same bill every month….

  2. Murat says:

    BBM isn’t free whilst roaming, it uses data that’s charges the same way as any other phone.

    Also BBM hasn’t been updated in well over a year, the last major update was adding profile pictures. I wouldn’t count on them beating Apple with any updates.

    Agree that BBM users sticking with phone because there’s no alternative but whilst BBM is usable the rest of the phone is dreadful, especially web browsing. That’s why Apple will snatch so many BB users away.

  3. Murat says:

    Seriously BBM isn’t free whilst you roam. It’s free if you message a contact who lives in another country and has a contract there but if you’re roaming it uses data just like the iPhone.

    A lot of people confuse that with it actually being free everywhere.

    The reason why your colleagues have horrific phone bills is most likely because their behaviour on the iPhone is different, users browse more, use more apps etc. If you behave the same way you do at home with the phone then your bill will be massive.

    But data is data, if you have the same tariff on Blackberry and iPhone you will be charged the same.

    Google “Is BBM free whilst roaming”

  4. LA says:

    Sylvie, you are misinformed. BBM uses data in the same way that iMessage does. There is no extra cost incurred in iMessage over BBM. Murat is correct in saying that your colleagues are probably using a lot of other data services on the iPhone to incur these charges. This would also happen on a blackberry if they had the wealth of apps and rich browsing experience that the iphone does. But blackberry doesnt.

  5. LA says:

    Sylvie- just wondering when you’re going to admit your error here and update the story so there is not misinformation floating out there.

    • Sylvie Barak says:

      I’m not. Because as a user of BlackBerry on T-Mobile, my information is accurate. I don’t pay for any amount of data on email or Blackberry messenger while abroad. I don’t know any iPhone plan that offers the same service. When there is one, let me know!

  6. Andrew says:

    Sylvie: Have you thought of writing an article based on facts and not based on your individual experience? All it would have taken is a little bit a research to get your story straight, or just not write it at all. Go ahead and turn off the data plan on your line of service; see if BBM works. BBM WILL NOT work if there is no data plan. OOPS!!
    The arguement about international data use is not between BB and iPhone; the root of it lies in the specific data plan from the carrier, not the phone.
    Oh, AND BBM does NOT go through your company’s BES. BES is NOT a requirement for BBM. Once again, the ONLY requirement for BBM to work is a standard data plan.

  7. Jason Smith says:

    Is the author of this article B-R-A-I-N-D-E-A-D? Of course there are roaming costs when using BBM overseas. This article is either a joke, or she doesn’t realize carriers have 90 days to settle any roaming costs. I bet she gets sidewacked with a massive roaming data bill shortly.

    I’ve never seen an article written with so much mis-information in my life.

    • Sylvie Barak says:

      Jason, a) some manners would go a long way. No need to be so disrespectful just because you’re behind a keyboard. b) I travel for approximately 2 weeks out of every month abroad and have been doing so for the last year and a half. During that time, I have used BBM on my T-Mobile plan in every country and have had no issue with it. It is unlimited and free for use on the plan, just like email on BlackBerry. Does it require a data plan? sure it does. Do I get charged excessively for using it while abroad? absolutely not.
      Perhaps I’m actually not so brain dead if I’ve managed to figure out a way of getting the most out of my device and data plan….

  8. Patrick says:

    Sylvie, I have to agree with the posters above. Glad you like your Berry. I would say respectifully that is not balanced reporting at all. You have a feature on your plan that allows you to use BBM service overseas, but you pay for it. It might be a small amount but you do pay to use it. It’s akin to saying my Blackberry Plan came with Voicemail but your AT&T iphone plan didn’t so voicemail is free if you have a Blackberry. It is a feature of your plan NOT of your phone or the Blackberry functionality.

    In your article you stated:
    “Indeed, many BlackBerry users stick with the device purely because no other phone or OS has offered any kind of viable replacement for BBM, especially while traveling abroad where data charges are expensive, but BBM remains free and utterly usable. ”

    This is why the posters are taking exception to your article. My colleague would absolutely disagree with you as he has a Berry and used BBM extensively overseas on a trip not realizing the data use and got a whopper of a bill. I mean ask any Canadian roaming overseas with a Berry or an iPhone and they’d kill to have a plan that only charged an extra $1 a month for unlimited overseas data use.

    The reason your own colleagues have large bills is due to the design of their plan not to the design of their iPhone equipment. They could have easily have had Blackberry’s on AT&T or some other carrier and had the same large bills. Again a function of their plan not their phone.

    It’s the blanket statement you made about BBM service being free for everyone that is incorrect. You should have disclosed that this was a result of your plan and not a feature of the Blackberry phone itself and except in your comments you’ve not amended your story to reflect this. You run the risk that people read it thinking they too would have unlimited use overseas because they have a Berry when in fact they might not have unlimited roaming with their plan.

    Additionally given t-Mobile doesn’t yet offer the iPhone you can’t say for sure whether your iPhone coworkers wouldn’t have the same cost experience as you do on your BBM plan IF the same type of unlimited roaming plan was offered at t-Mobile for iPhone customers with data included for email etc.

    Just sayin…

    • Sylvie Barak says:

      That’s a fair enough comment Patrick, and I agree with your points. You’re right that my article is colored by the fact I have a great plan here in the US. I foolishly assumed that plan must be available to most people with a BlackBerry, as it was certainly a selling point when I bought mine. I have to say, the fact that it’s not available to others is downright silly, as it seems like an excellent way of reducing churn and increasing customer loyalty to a carrier and brand of phone.
      I’ll add an update to my article noting that the plan I use.
      Thanks for your thoughtful and respectful comment.


  1. [...] messaging service that works between all iOS users. Similar to BlackBerry Messenger, but perhaps nothing for Research In Motion Ltd. to worry about yet, iMessage enables users to send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages to other [...]

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