We're still in the early days of BlackBerry 10, but it is stacking up as a solid platform. As a version 1 release it cannot be overstated how fully featured the phone is. But what is more exciting is the potential that we have in our hands now.
One of the bugbears from the PlayBook release was that you could only video chat with other PlayBook users. As great as video chat was – it was limited. Without any BBM integration it was difficult to find contacts as well. It made the usefulness of the Video Chat app limited to a niche piece of fun. Things got better with PlayBook 2.0, as the Video Chat app tied in with your contacts, now you could find other video contacts easily, but you were still dependant on other PlayBook owners.
Things are better now that we have BlackBerry 10 devices out. My BBM Video list is growing larger each day and it’s great knowing that people can video me on both my Z10 and my PlayBook.
But is BlackBerry missing a trick? We talked about BBM on our BlackBerry 10 pre-launch podcast and discussed what video means to BBM. Since the launch I’ve been blown away that we can easily make voice and video calls while on 3G with other BlackBerry users! We’re connected in an instant, no matter where we are. But we still lack ubiquity.
There’s a reason that BlackBerry fans are desperate for Skype to appear on the Z10 – because people want to chat with other people who are not on BBM. Skype is the most prominent desktop messaging application out there, so no wonder we need it to connect!
So what if that scenario at the start happened? What if BlackBerry released BBM for desktop users who don’t have a BlackBerry? I’m not for a minute suggesting that BlackBerry bring BBM to other mobile platforms – but I think that a desktop BBM application would make BBM a fiercely competitive product in the communications space. It’s not a stretch to imagine a lot of BlackBerry users getting their friends and family members who have other handsets to download this program. BlackBerry users are notoriously stubborn at avoiding using messaging apps beyond BBM if they don’t have to.
This would be even better than Apple’s Facetime, as you could have Windows and Mac desktop versions. BlackBerry have no allegiance to any desktop operating system, whereas Apple want you to buy into their complete ecosystem. Instantly more market share! In a dream world, there’d be a Linux version as well to really pit BBM against Skype.
The benefits? This will leverage BBM as a social communication platform even more. Those with the best experience will be able to take BBM with them, but there will be potentially millions more users who will now be on BBM. And as they start to use BBM to talk with their friends and family because of us stubborn users who won’t use anything else, they may just decide that they want to take BBM out with them. Maybe on a shiny, new, BlackBerry 10 handset.
I have no doubt that the technology is hidden away in BlackBerry HQ somewhere – and I’m sure this has been discussed somewhere, sometime.
I’m putting it out there right now. BlackBerry - if you want to make your handsets the must have devices – make BBM come to people’s desktops. Make BBM the messaging app for everybody.