The pace at which technology moves these days is amazing. It seems like only yesterday that Apple was introducing mobile apps and Google launched the G1. Yet at the same time it seems like the BlackBerry has been around for years and it looks rather similar to how it’s always looked. Though here and there, as advanced as Android and iOS have become, every once and a while you hear about a group of people who simply won’t give up their BlackBerry phones. And especially with younger people, the reason they seem to be sticking with the BlackBerry is because of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). But how is it that a program like this can proliferate in a time of cross-platform?
So lets look at the key points of BBM:
- BBM is like a platform specific IM client. It’s slick because it’s basically integrated with the phone and works with all current BlackBerries. The integration is very tight.
- On other phones you’re stuck with texting, which limits the number of characters to 160 per text, and also doesn’t support group texting (some devices do in a way, but it’s not part of the “system”).
- BBM allows you to know for sure that a message was sent, and also you know when it was read.
That, in a nutshell, is what BBM has going for it. However, it also has some big limitations. For starters, BBM works on ONLY BlackBerries. How great would it be if you could BBM with your friends who have iPhones and Android phones and others? That’s a major missing piece. Secondly, is it just me or is knowing when your text read as a feature reek of email read receipts? Texting read receipts are no more of good idea than email read receipts are. I don’t want people to know when I read something and I don’t care if it’s an email or text or anything.
So why now, in this era of RIM’s falling market share in the US would they not develop BBM for other platforms? No one knows. RIM marches to their own drum. Ultimately their lack of innovation in recent years will probably doom them to fourth or fifth place US market share before long.
So then WHY on earth can’t the rest of us enjoy the benefits of BBM? This can’t be so complicated can it? Enter Beluga. Instant messaging has been around for years and years, but it’s never really made a successful jump to phones. Maybe Beluga can make a difference.
Think of Beluga as BBM for your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android device or even your computer. Beluga allows you to create specialized rooms called “Pods” where you can hold conversations with anyone who either has a Beluga account or has a cell phone. You get rid of the character limit of SMS but you now have true group messaging, just like BBM. Beluga is fantastic: it’s simple, elegant, it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and best of all, it’s cross-platform. HALLELUJAH!!
Now if they really wanted to up their game, Beluga would also create a WebOS, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry app as well. That would really give them the leverage to grow. But growth also has me concerned. Beluga was started by some ex-Googlers and their excellent little app was noticed and recently bought by Facebook. Interesting though it is, Facebook does have a history of buying companies for their talent, and then shutting down the company. Please oh please Facebook!! Please don’t take away our Beluga!! Sure, we could move to GroupMe and not think twice about it… but I really don’t want to.
I consider myself and average texter for my age. I used to need the 250 text per month plan… then I needed the 1500/month plan. Then I almost needed the unlimited at one point. But now with Beluga, I’ve converted 95% of my texting to Beluga which means, my dear friends, that I no longer need to pay my wireless carriers exorbitant costs for giving me the privilege of text whom, when and how often I wish. Beautiful!!
I highly recommend checking out Beluga and telling your friends as well. Even if you intend to use it for texting to those without a smartphone, it works extremely well for texting basic feature phones as well. Give Beluga a chance. Maybe if we get enough folks using this fantastic free service, Facebook will spare it from the chopping block and realize how it can thrive completely and profitably on its own.