End of an era, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) shuts down

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It’s the end of an era — an era that many thought already ended years ago. BlackBerry’s BBM service went dark on Friday night, years after the company halted phone production. But for those who still want to “ping” their BBM-loving friends, there’s a way to keep doing that. BlackBerry stopped making its own phones in 2016, but its messenger system, BBM, was still available in app form for Android and iOS devices. Today will be the last day to use BBM on non-BlackBerry phones, but its legacy will live on. Android and iOS users can now download a brand new BlackBerry messaging app, which is called BBMe, or “BBM Enterprises,” and boasts of its privacy and security features.

“BBMe is a secure messaging platform that protects your personal information,” BlackBerry writes on its website. “It doesn’t track your contacts, where you’re messaging from, or what you’re sharing and discussing. Create a closed social circle by establishing contact relationships through an invitation request and accept process (via email, NFC or PIN).” Instead of a phone number, BBMe only requires an email address, and BlackBerry promises it “won’t suggest contacts to users or sell user’s phone numbers,” according to the site. “Secure end-to-end signing and encryption protects all BBMe messages from eavesdropping or manipulation.” A one-year free trial of BBMe is currently available in the Apple app store, but BlackBerry could start charging for its services in the future.

For those who cannot part with the original BBM, BlackBerry assured consumers they could still find the service on BB10 and BBOS devices — if you happen to still have one.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen told “CBS This Morning” security is the one thing BlackBerry does better than anyone else. The company peaked in 2011 with 52 million smartphones sold, but it succumbed to competition from Apple and Android phones. But instead of falling by the wayside, BlackBerry instead pivoted. The company tried to revitalize its brand by focusing on software and security, even planning to take its software beyond phones and into everyday devices like washers and dryers. Now, it appears to be trying to shore up its position in secure communication with the reinvention of BBM as BBMe.

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