The thing about BlackBerry and one of its core services, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), is that like its devices, its usage is on the decline. This is as a result of the rise of competing messaging apps and services from rivals including Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage, Telegram, Chinese giant Tencent’s WeChat, Line Corporation’s service going by the same and several others that are popular in various regions around the world.
Despite opening up BBM to competing platforms iOS and Android, the service has struggled to stay relevant. Never mind the strong security features its makers tout and the addition of new features like mobile payments in markets like Nigeria, South Africa and Indonesia, where BlackBerry still enjoys some strong following.
In realization of the above turn of events, the company has today announced that it is dropping the $0.99 subscription fee for several premium features. The features, which gave users more control and privacy over the messages they send each other, are now free for all on all the platforms where BBM is available.
Retract and Timer, the two premium features now available to all users at no extra cost, allowed users to delete messages they had sent to both themselves (the sender) and the recipient as well as specifying for how long the recipient of a photo, message or location information could access it before it was auto-deleted.
BlackBerry is also releasing several new features to the different apps on different platforms. For instance, BlackBerry 10 users will be able to just delete messages appearing on their end. iOS users get better voice quality when making calls over BBM while their Android counterparts with devices running on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) can now join in the fun.