The BlackBerry platform's slow fade to black
Image: Jack Wallen
The only reason this headline should surprise anyone is the fact that BlackBerry OS is actually still alive. End of story, right? Truth be told, most assumed BlackBerry’s operating system dead when the company decided to release a device running the Android platform. It seemed to be the only logical step forward for BlackBerry Limited. And yet, BB continues on.
Only now, they continue on without Whatsapp and Facebook support.
When pressed for the reason why they are pulling support, Facebook made their case quite simple, stating that 99.5 % of all smartphone sales are of the Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile platforms.
What doesn’t make sense is the fact that the BlackBerry OS is still alive and kicking. Yes, I understand BlackBerry was the platform for business users for a very long time, but that time has come and gone and the only relevant platforms are obvious. In fact, even Windows Mobile is barely hanging on to any semblance of relevancy.
What can you expect
If you happen to be a BlackBerry user, you already knew that Whatsapp pulled the plug. Now you can count on the Facebook app functioning (sans updates) until the end of the year. Once 2016 passes, the app will cease to be available in any form.
My guess is, once the Facebook app no longer functions on the platform, the Grim Reaper will swoop into the offices of the BB10 developers and have a field day. Facebook holds a powerful sway over the ebb and flow of the consumer. No Facebook, no platform.
And you may be saying to yourself, “BB10 is a business-centric platform, there’s no need for a Facebook app”. That assumption is false for at least two reasons. First, businesses actually use Facebook as a form of marketing. Second, you’re assuming that business users do not spend any amount of time on Facebook. According to comScore, the average American citizen spends 40 minutes a day on the social network platform. Relatively speaking, that’s a significant amount of time (considering users tend to work on Facebook in a sort of “hit and run” style). And if you factor in the peak Facebook hours of 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., it’s clear that business users do spend time on Facebook.
Of this separation, BlackBerry said:
“We are extremely disappointed in their decision as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands,”
BlackBerry even started a Twitter campaign to change Facebook’s mind, with the hashtag #ILoveBB10Apps. I did a quick Twitter search for that hashtag and found the hashtag (somewhat) backfired on BlackBerry. Tweets ranging from angry users (one user asking how his BlackBerry device could be showing 0% battery, yet still be functioning), to the usual flood of memes and spam. Some users did proclaim they’d be sticking with BlackBerry by way of the PRIV (which, if we’re being honest, at that point you are as much in support of Android as you are BlackBerry). Of course, there were the BlackBerry faithful, extolling the values of BlackBerry 10 multitasking, security, and such to convince Facebook to not pull the plug.
The truth is in the numbers
You really shouldn’t need anything more than that telling number 99.5. That is beyond significant. We’ve watched new (and promising) platforms come and go, thanks to the might that is Android and iOS. Because BlackBerry has been around for a while, doesn’t give them a special hall pass to avoid the apple flavored robotic death hammer.
If BlackBerry wants to continue on, their only hope clearly lies in Android. The BlackBerry faithful will gladly continue on, with their physical keyboards and Android platform. Either that, or they can say goodbye to BlackBerry altogether, because Facebook pulling support could well be the killing blow to the little platform that could.
Or could not…that is the question.