Goodbye Forever, Blackberry Messenger

BBM is being put in the grave today, so we asked people for their fondest memories of the messaging service.

by Yusuf Tamanna
31 May 2019, 8:00am

Screenshots via "BB Hype" / YouTube

Bad news, 2009: Blackberry's once-beloved messenger function is shutting down forever. Emtek, the company that took over the running of BBM in 2016, announced earlier this year that it would stop supporting the app as of today.

We've all gotten used to apps bounding into our lives and then being cruelly snatched away (RIP Vine), but the loss of BBM really feels like the end of an era. Granted, I haven’t had a Blackberry or used BBM since 2012, but at the height of its popularity a Blackberry was the must-have device. It became a status symbol, and people wilfully gave out their BB pins to anyone and everyone. Maxwell D even dedicated a song to the device.

Away from the excitement of swapping BB pins and updating your status on an hourly basis, BBM came under fire in 2011 in the wake of the London Riots. It was suggested by police that much of the chaos from the riots was organised using the messenger app, and after that summer – and the release of Apple's shiny new iPhone 4 – Blackberry's popularity nosedived.

However, BBM will always remain a massive part of the culture. Most recently, the idea of using BBM was referenced in a flashback scene from Netflix's rom-com Someone Great, so it’s safe to say Blackberry's status as a pop cultural artefact is secure. As we wave it farewell today, I asked a load of people to share their fondest and weirdest memories of BBM.

Spoiler: no one misses those broadcast messages.

"I loved BBM! It was such a big part of my life while I was at university. It was the way we all communicated and it felt like I was part of a community. I remember a well-known American rapper gave out his BB pin, so I added it quickly – though I was super uncool at the time. I ended talking to him about the weather! He seemed far from impressed. BBM closing down is a little sad as it helped me connect with friends (and rappers) during an integral part of my life." – Natalie, 31

"For me, it was a really cool way of connecting with people who you normally wouldn’t speak to or come into contact with face-to-face, and because it was all on data there wasn’t the issue of topping up – oh my god! The days of having to top up your credit! I liked that it was the first messaging platform that allowed you to make group chats and all that stuff. I loved the emojis. I still miss the hugging one to this day. I think I liked BBM so much because it had an MSN vibe to it, with the option of changing your status and updating your display picture." – Sumera, 25

"The status and display pictures function always caused so much drama! Attention seekers would put up statuses that made you worry about them, so you’d message them to see if they were OK. There were always quarrels among friends if you didn’t put up someone’s picture as your display picture when it was their birthday. I’ll always remember the sadness I felt when I messaged the guy I liked and the blue D (delivered) turned into a green R (read) and I got no reply message. I’d get so upset, but I would always have to remind myself: 'I'm worth more than this!'" – Jill, 36

"BBM was such a lifesaver on nights out. If I lost any of my friends in the club I’d just ping them relentlessly until they checked their phone so I could find them. Also, whenever a guy who I wasn’t at all interested in wouldn't take no for an answer I’d just give them my BB pin instead of my number as a way to get them to fuck off. My girlfriends and I knew that groups of boys would challenge each other to see how many pins they could get in one night. Looking back, the whole culture of BBM just feels so lame, now that I think about it." – Manpreet, 28

"I used to sell tickets for club nights at university, and BBM was the only way people were communicating at the time. Hardly anyone sent texts anymore and it was before WhatsApp really took off. It became mandatory that ticket sellers had a Blackberry phone so they could make their sales. Honestly, I hated how accessible it made me, because I’d get people messaging me and pinging me at stupid hours of the day asking for tickets, and if they saw I read the message and didn’t reply they’d spam my chat until I did. People can still do that sort of thing today on WhatsApp and Instagram DM, but I think, back then, having instant messaging on your phone was such a new thing that people didn’t know how to behave or use it properly. I feel like now there’s a bit more of a protocol to it and we all understand that we’re online all the time, but we can’t respond to everything there and then." – Sukh, 29

"There was this weird hierarchy of flirting when BBM came into the mix. First you’d chat on BBM to scope the person out; if you were feeling them you’d move it to text messaging, before eventually talking on the phone. So many of the boys I’d talk to never made it past the BBM stage." – Nicky, 24

"They ended up banning Blackberry phones from my school because teachers said they were a distraction, and honestly they were. Plus, some people used to chat shit about others in the same class on BBM, and then what they said would get screen-munched and sent to everyone else. It was basically used as a tool to bully people. I hated that." – Leandra, 22

"This is going to sound so bad, but I only really used BBM as a way to organise my dick appointments. I wasn’t out at the time, and loads of the boys I’d get with were either closeted themselves or had girlfriends. A lot of the boys would only give me their BB pins as a way to contact them, because it was unique and wasn’t traceable back to them if they ever got caught." – Ben, 30

"That week the London riots proper kicked off in 2011, I remember my BBM going mad. People messaging each other to see where they were, and I was getting added into groups that were planning to do a madness in the town centre and all that shit. It was during the summer holidays and people were just bored, looking for something to do." – Jason, 27

"BBM was the easiest way for me to make friends when I started university. Everyone was on the Blackberry hype and people were open to sharing their pins. BBM really was where lifelong friendships were made through the mutual love for Blackberry!" – Esther, 27