Thursday, September 19, 2013

BBM All Set to Run on Android and iOS this Weekend

BlackBerry has finally made it official that BBM for Android would start rolling out on September 21 and for iPhone customers from September 22 globally. The first of its kind instant chat service with which BlackBerry gained popularity worldwide was left waning after its market share was hit badly by Android and iOS, followed by the inception of free popular chat services such as WhatsApp, Line, Wechat etc started to haunt BBM as they were available to all the mobile operating systems including BlackBerry itself.

Until now, BBM was only available for native BlackBerry devices, but it will now be available as a free download app for Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.x) software. Likewise, BBM for iPhones powered by iOS 6 and iOS 7 software will become available for each market on the App Store schedule on Sept. 22.

With "We are the BlackBerry Boys" campaign, and its popular curve devices, BBM gained global popularity and with its proven security, it has never been in questions. BBM is competing against the chat services which have many loop holes related to security, WhatsApp, Wechat etc use the Mobile numbers to add a new contact to the chat, whereas BBM use a unique PIN, which means you don't have to share your mobile number to any stranger.

A comparison b/w BBM and WhatsApp
BBM vs WhatsApp

WhatsApp - Some of the known security breaches of WhatsApp are below:
  • In May 2011, a security hole reportedly left WhatsApp user accounts open for hijacking. Since May 2011, WhatsApp communications are reportedly not encrypted, and data is sent and received in plaintext, meaning messages can easily be read if packet traces are available.
  • According to some sources, the hijacking hack was performed and later fixed by helping WhatsApp reproduce it on Android and Symbian, by Liroy van Hoewijk, CEO of In May 2012, security researchers noticed that new updates of WhatsApp no longer sent messages as plaintext, the cryptographic method implemented was subsequently described as "broken".
  • In September 2011, WhatsApp released a new version of the Messenger application for iPhones, closing critical security holes that allowed forged messages to be sent and messages from any WhatsApp user to be read.
  • On January 6, 2012, an unknown hacker published a website ( that made it possible to change the status of an arbitrary WhatsApp user, as long as the phone number was known. To make it work, it only required a restart of the app. According to the hacker, it is only one of the many security issues in WhatsApp. On January 9, WhatsApp reported that it had resolved the issue, although the only measure actually taken was to block the website's IP address. As a reaction, a Windows tool was made available for download providing the same functionality. This issue has since been resolved in the form of an IP check on currently logged in session.
  • On January 13, 2012, WhatsApp was pulled from the iOS App Store, and the reason was not disclosed. The app was added back to the App Store four days later.
  • German Tech site The H demonstrated how to use WhatsAPI to hijack any WhatsApp account on September 14, 2012. Shortly after a legal threat to WhatsAPI's developers was alleged, characterized by The H as "an apparent reaction" to security reports, and WhatsAPI's source code was taken down for some days. The WhatsAPI team has since returned to active development.

BBM Security - Despite the waning sales figure, BlackBerry remains King of security, and BBM is light years ahead of WhatsApp on this critical front. In WhatsApp, a user can add you in a group, and all the group members can see your name and number, without you even knowing, your contact number and name is visible to entire group. That is a massive security hole because WhatsApp uses phone numbers to store contacts. BBM on the other hand, uses the device PIN for the same.

Another party spoiler is that if you change your contact number with which you were using WhatsApp, your contacts could be accessed by the new owner of that number, well, that escalated quickly. WhatsApp users also get messages from address book contacts, even if they don't want to stay connected. The only way of not receiving a message from a contact is to block that number. On the other hand, BBM doesn't disclose unnecessary information unless you want to display it. Another notable issue with WhatsApp is that it displays the time and date when a user was last active, though it can be disabled. This is a significant concern for those who are not very well tech versed, especially teens and college students. While you told your someone that you were busy/slept early or haven't checked out WhatsApp, this app unfortunately broadcasts the fact that you were active till 2 AM on WhatsApp.

Another privacy concern is getting Ds and Rs right, perhaps the biggest advantage BBM had is the Delivered (D) and Read (R) signs next to each message. If a message hasn't been delivered on BBM, you won't see a blue D and till it is read you won't see a green R. Though WhatsApp also have a the two tick marks that perform the same function, but actually the two tick marks don't stand for Delivered and Read. It is an official statement, check out WhatsApp's FAQ. The single tick mark stands for message delivered to server and the second tick mark stands for message delivered to device. So, if you've seen 2 ticks on WhatsApp, don't be sure that it has been read or not, while with BBM, you can be sure about it.

BBM is approved for usage by many reputed emergency services in the West, reason behind it is that BBM rides on BlackBerry's massive private network that connects carriers with BlackBerry private infrastructure globally. This is also why BBM works when mobile networks often seem choked and text and voice calls are not going through. BlackBerry operates an enterprise-grade network that businesses and government agencies of all kinds (including the US Department of Defense) trust for secure and reliable communication. On this front, WhatsApp or any other chat service doesn't come close.

There has always been a Word War going between the BlackBerry Boys and Anti BlackBerry Boys, but one can not deny the fact that BBM is far more superior and secure on each ground, but as it was with BB OS 10, it is just about too late, but as a standalone service, this could catch up with other free chat services but how much would this be able to revive the company is to be seen.

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