According to Business Insider, BlackBerry’s free messaging service discontinued as of June 1.
Called BBM for short, the service was rolled out in 2005, and has been used on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry phones since. BBM experienced a bust in popularity since the birth of iMessage and other messaging services and apps, Business Insider says.
“Instant messaging is a very fluid and competitive market,” BlackBerry said in a blog post. “…we have tried our best to compete in this market and launch many new features and content that we had hoped would grow the BBM user base. Despite all of our efforts, we found that the network effect of the market leaders is getting stronger and we have been squeezed out of user preferences.”
However, BlackBerry is planning on releasing BBM Enterprise, or BBMe, in BBM’s place. This service, BlackBerry’s service for corporate users, will function similar to its predecessor, and will be made available to end users looking to still utilize it.
Users will be able to use their same IDs to log into BBMe, but they will need to create new accounts with new passwords. Users transferring to BBMe will also lose access to their conversations, photos, and other important data from their BBM days as of June 1, Business Insider says.
And, they will have to pay: the service will be free to users for a year, but will then cost $2.50 for a sixth-month subscription. The cost seems reasonable, Business Insider says, but BlackBerry might be intentionally shrinking their market: “As far as subscriptions go, that’s not too bad, but the prospect of paying for a messaging service these days when there are so many free options could mean that only the most die-hard BBM fans will opt for BBMe.”
Users interested in BBMe can get the product from the Google Play store, and soon from Apple’s App Store.