I have watched many companies come and go as they attempt to launch IP-based voice services. However, “come-and-go” has been the operative word here; they failed to get any significant user traction. It’s not the technology that makes for success but rather how many can access the service.
For the past two weeks BlackBerry Messenger 7 with BBM Voice has been in beta mode only accessible to those willing to work within the logistics of BlackBerry’s beta program.
Yesterday RIM brought free voice calling to over 60 million BlackBerry Messenger users immediately by releasing BlackBerry Messenger 7 that delivers BBM Voice when they are both in a WiFi zone. Three other new features include:
- BBM upgrade notifications – BBM will notify you when there are updates to download straight from within the app
- BBID Synchronization – your BBM profile, Groups and Contacts are linked to your BlackBerry ID
- 16 Additional emoticons – for some reason emoticons are an emotional draw to any text messaging service.
The BBID Synchronization got a workout in my own case due to an issue reinstalling BlackBerry Messenger on my Torch 9800. I got back all my BBM Contacts and recovered some conversations. But this feature is mainly in anticipation of facilitating the migration to BlackBerry 10.
Important also is the ability to text or work in other applications while on a voice call, including the ability to send pictures. Here is their video:
BBM 7 works on all BlackBerries with OS 6 and OS 7 with support for OS 5 coming out early next year. (Along with the obvious when BlackBerry 10 launches.)
Launching a service immediately available to 60 million potential users is a significant contributor to BlackBerry 10’s prospects for business success. It can bind together those who have formed Groups and even those individual contacts who have established a 1:1 relationship that rely on BBM. Another bond that would be broken by going to other devices. It’s a service that will work between legacy BlackBerries and BlackBerry 10’s, facilitating the user base transition to BlackBerry 10.
Yet there has been hardly any coverage of this launch. It is one more example of how the mainstream media and analysts simply don’t understand the complete picture of what will make RIM and BlackBerry 10 successful on its launch. One report in the New York Times worries about the impact on carrier relationships. In today’s communications world, carriers, such as Rogers, are learning how to deal with OTT (over-the-top) services by offering services using similar technology but where the end user uses a traditional telephone set. But these are largely legacy phone to legacy phone voice calling offerings without taking full advantage of the full potential of IP-based communications and smartphones. And WiFi continues to be the “stealth” carrier. The real revenue growth for carriers will come from increased data revenues driven by OTT services.
Bottom line: RIM continues to build the ecosystem required not only for a new user smartphone experience but also the infrastructure to support its acceptance in the market. With over 40,000 apps potentially at launch, a world leading browser, leveraging 650 existing carrier relationships and putting in place programs to facilitate enterprise transitions, the pieces for market acceptance and adoption are coming together.
- BBM Voice Out Now On RIM OS 7(andyabramson.blogs.com)