For anyone who has ever bitched about Apple being draconian, this is just another example of what the mobile app world was like before the App Store. It really wasn't all unicorns and rainbows and happy developers skipping through the meadow. It was locked down and cost absurd amounts of money to break into.
I see advertisements day in and day out for BBM. Not for RIM's latest phone, not for a new RIM app, but specifically for BBM. Why? Because RIM has realized that one of the only things keeping a large % of their user base around is BBM. Their OS is horrible, their devices are nothing special, but BBM is arguably the best mobile messaging product out there (so good that Kik pretty much copied it exactly).
I have friends that won't replace their BBs solely because they feel as though they'll lose touch with their friends that use BBM (I know, SMS, email etc. all seem like fair replacements but in practice they aren't...BBM is superior for a # of reasons).
Now, what is Kik doing? It is offering a comparable messaging platform that allows BBM users to speak with their friends no matter what device they are using. If I tell my friends with BBs to get Kik and we all start to use it consistently, then eventually one of us can go get that iPhone we've always wanted. Then another one etc.
Kik is on the verge of breaking into the walled garden that is BBM and RIM is obviously not too happy about it.
"Their OS is horrible, their devices are nothing special."
So what is it that users find so great about it? (Asking legitimately out of curiosity not sarcastically )
Couple of reasons people like BBM so much (observation of BB friends):
1) You can see when someone is typing
2) It's very fast and feels like your talking with someone on gchat/aim/etc
3) Most BBM users are already "locked in" with eachother via BB PIN #'s. It would be like changing your phone number if you got off BB
4) A person in the US can BBM a person in the UK for free
If it gains traction, it might turn into a BBM competitor which is available on all platforms, thereby removing _the_ primary reason BBs sell like hotcakes here in Asia.
I guess I should backtrack - BB in SE Asia (and probably other regions world wide) is THE must have phone for every student, college or high school. You either have one, or you want one.
The reason for this is BBM. Clever marketing and the fact that most students already have BB make it a social must have. You either have a BB or you're out. They're selling them by the bucketloads, it's quite incredible.
Without BBM, there is no way BB would sell _any_ phones over here. So clearly they must protect it. If students somehow would get turned on to Kik, and you didn't need the - let's admit it rather ugly-looking - BB to use it, Blackberry sales in the region would die overnight.
Anyone else find it deliciously ironic that BB is now blatantly doing what Apple is usually accused of doing?
The "it" phone everywhere else has always been iPhone and shipping times have been stuck at 2 weeks as recently as early November.
Google Trends bears this out. There is not a single ASEAN country other than Indonesia where BB comes out ahead in normalized searches.
RIM already provides IM clients for Google Talk, Yahoo, and MSN, with pretty much the exact same UI and features as BBM. The quality of their Google Talk client is one of the things keeping me on BlackBerry.
Blackberry Messenger (BBM) also has a typing indicator, delivered and read indicators, and it's faster than anything else out there.
Also, the fact that it's only on mobile devices and not desktop computers means that you know your message will get delivered to someone's pocket instead of the computer they may have left on. An odd side effect of its lack of portability.
I had been thinking about creating BBM for other platforms simply because I'd like to have it on my iPhone.
Their reliability isn't great, however.
GTalk/MSN etc = Mobile - Desktop Messaging
The use cases are completely different.
But do you think it's a smart strategy for RIM to try to stay relevant by blocking hot apps on their platform? would it not be a more sane strategy for them to make their devices better, and to open up their platform so that others can easily develop more great apps on it?
This just seems like such a dumb short-sighted move.
BBM truly is the only app holding a great many people back from ditching their blackberries for android or i-devices. The second we find a reliable way to transition away from the blackberry, today, we would. The blackberry has to keep a lock on it's last and only killer app while it finds a way to stay relevant.
Edit: someone below says he was an intern
App World is just their attempt to copy the Apple "curated" model, with worse results. Access to the BB push infrastructure is a special case though.
[Update: RIM has now responded with the following comment,
referring to a breach of "contractual obligations," but is
not specifying what those obligations were: "RIM became
aware of a number of issues and customer concerns regarding
the Kik app and service. Following discussions with Kik, the
app was removed from BlackBerry App World on November 12.
Upon further investigation, RIM concluded that Kik had
breached contractual obligations. Based on the broad scope
and seriousness of the issues and concerns, RIM terminated
its agreements with Kik and withdrew RIM’s support for Kik’s
However, RIM previously took them out of App World because of privacy and battery life concerns. These are two of the most basic concerns of mobile app users.
If that's why they were permanently yanked from App World this time, RIM is acting in everyone's interest.
Regardless of how viral your company and it's products have become lately, your users should come first.
1) Kik claims to have already submitted a new version of the app that addressed these concerns.
2) The app was already approved and into the store. How is his responsible behavior?
3) How does further disabling Kik’s ability to distribute new versions of the app (by revoking signing keys) help?
4) How does crippling the UX (by disabling push) of the existing install base help anyone? That isn’t, as you say, putting users first! (And I don’t buy that this would improve batter life — this is the whole idea of push, it’s better than long or frequent polling!)
I’d bet this is almost entirely because they see Kik as a competitor to BBM (which it is).
Edited in reply: Removing from the app store is one thing (done ~2 weeks ago). Breaking existing installs for no real good reason is pretty indefensible, IMO.
2) Maybe it was flagged after it was originally approved.
3) I agree. I'm not sure how submitting a BB app works - I assumed the key was at app-level, not company-level, but I've never submitted a BB app before.
4) This is probably related to the battery life issue.
Don't get me wrong - If they kicked it out for being "too similar to BBM", that's a dick move. But if Kik didn't patch their app to sufficiently fix the battery and privacy issues, it makes sense that RIM wouldn't want to officially distribute it.
With your dev license, you get access to RIM's signing service. You can distribute code any way you like, but you have to run it through the signing servers before it will run on a device. To shut you down, they just disable your account. Code that is already signed will run forever.
On the other hand, Apple generally doesn't like other people to play fast and loose with their own user's data, yet no peep so far from them?
If both Android and iOS devices could talk to each other via a system like BBM's, it would easily mean RIM's services getting phased out. It's either BBM for the masses or BBM only for Blackberry users.
I use a Blackberry because of the BBM. In my country it's a necessity, so it doesn't matter how much I want an iphone, it makes no sense while Blackberry and it's messaging app are so widespread and there are really no competitors.
If Kik where to get bought by Google and the big G gave free access to that service (and Apple integrates it by default on it's iPhone and iPad) it could very well mean RIM's demise.
Edit: Patent ≠ copyright, but nonetheless a patent suit would be interesting, damned weak, and unlikely to be resolved for years (IANAL)
This isn't actually true, you can patent interfaces. Notoriously, a TV channel guide which has a grid interface with channels and times represented as columns and rows is patented (originally by TVGuide, now owned by Rovi). Every Guide you see on a cable or satellite box in the US pays a licensing fee to Rovi.
I've also heard horror stories stemming from this - some teams have such a high reliance on interns (cheap labour, hurrah!) that code quality is truly abysmal.
It wouldn't surprise me if all (FB, Apple, Twitter, now RIM) but one (Android) digital platform curation teams acted in the same way. Of course, it is their platform, their right.
Android can afford not to because Google have a different business model.
Verizon being the sole carrier with Skype will hurt Skype's adoption on mobile phones because if you want to talk to someone with an Android phone, they have to be a Verizon customer. Thus, it isn't a given that they will have the ability to Skype, so you use the mobile phone network, inferior as it is, instead.
The oddity of Skype is entirely Skype's making -- they saw a revenue model negotiating with carriers (the idea being "Get a Verizon Android phone because then you can get Skype"), so that's what they did. They control their own product, so there it is.
A lot of their marketing is focusing on how great BBM is and how buying a Blackberry gives you access to this exclusive network of people. BBM is also the source of all those issues in UAE and India where its so secure that governments were threatening to block Blackberry because they couldn't snoop on BBM messages. Basically, BBM is the killer app on Blackberry.
Kik would commoditize BBM across any platform allowing users to freely move between them. The literature for Kik itself describes it as a BBM for all platforms, and I can see how RIM would be concerned that they'd lose one of their few advantages in the smartphone market if Kik supplanted BBM. Again, not sure if this actually was the "behind the scenes" cause, but RIM would definitely have a motivation to kill Kik.
Also they didn't just kick them out of the store, but revoked PUSH and signature keys, which is pretty a drastic move on their side. That makes me certain there is more to it.
Other IMs are very, very crummy experiences compared to BBM between BB devices. Kik is the first one that may be able to compete with and replace BBM (if only because it took a lot of "inspiration" from BBM), which is a big danger for BB as BBM is the only strength they have in the consumer market (in the US a blackberry is a corp phone, but in Europe it's used a lot by high-texting-volume teenagers and young adults)
I was reading the page looking for grandparent's question, and I still don't see why bbm would be such a huge feature that bb owners just can't live without. Sure, I can see how it may beat sms where international communication may be concerned, and texting someone in a different country doesn't work, and I can see how the group chat is useful, but every single other IM client can offer the same thing... I just don't get it.
Ted Livingston worked for RIM and saw problem, a big gap that needed to be filled in. Which was, taking the best black berry app and making it accessible on every major smart phone out there.
RIM kills Kik to save BBM but is probably killing themselves.