Is BlackBerry Messenger Dead in the Water?

One of the few things that makes the humble BlackBerry attractive is the Messenger service, which has been embraced by teenagers and the corporate world alike. But as people migrate from RIM's handset to other smartphones, BBM contact lists around the globe are shrinking—and now the software's future looks uncertain.

The Wall Street Journal reports that BBM is causing some strife within the walls of RIM HQ, and with that comes uncertainty as to what form it will take in the future. From the article:

"The service is also up against a host of new competitors, such as Apple's iMessage and popular third-party messaging tools like WhatsApp Messenger, which can be used from most devices.

"Any bigger push by RIM to leverage BBM, however, is taking a back seat to Chief Executive Thorsten Heins' focus on pushing out the company's new phone and operating system later this year, according to people familiar with the situation...

"That is a big shift from just a couple of months ago, when senior RIM executives were scrambling to figure out a way to capitalize on the popularity of the BBM service, these people said."

The Journal points out that recent plans to roll out BBM to other smartphone devices—a project unofficially called "SMS 2.0" within the company—met with conflicting opinion at RIM. Some thought it would drive recognition, others thought it would encourage more people to jump ship to iPhone or Android. The idea has since slipped from RIM's radar.

Now, BBM is languishing at the bottom of RIM's to do list, with fewer users every day. All told, the future looks bleak if something doesn't happen soon—a line we seem to use again and again when it comes to BlackBerry. [Wall Street Journal]

Image by AP