Understanding the BlackBerry 10 BIS Controversy

BlackBerry Z10

At the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the first devices running the new OS, BlackBerry officials made statements to the effect that it was not business as usual with BIS on BlackBerry 10. Those statements hinged on the fact that the new BlackBerry OS is much like most other new age smartphone platforms in that it is data-intensive, and that and it isn’t feasible to run all that data through the same compression that BIS offered on older BlackBerry versions. I presented why this made sense in my article, BlackBerry 10 Data Consumption: You Cannot Eat Your Cake & Have It.

Since then, BlackBerry officials have come out to say that it isn’t true that BIS won’t be available on BlackBerry 10. They have made it clear that BIS works on BB10 devices, but is restricted to BlackBerry-specific services like BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), but not to web browsing, email (even BlackBerry.net email accounts are not available on BB10) and other generic apps. If you understood that clearly, you would know that this makes no difference.

This is why I am amused that some individuals still harass me over that You-Can’t-Eat-Your-Cake-And-Have-It article that I wrote. It is so clear that nothing has changed from what I wrote! There’s BIS, but no compression for general usage. Errrr…do the math.

BIS means something to people in these parts only because of the huge data compression for browsing, downloading and uploading. As BIS no longer covers those activities on BB10, for many users, that is as good as BIS not being available on the platform. Your BBM chats get compressed. As if those required much compression in the first place.

While I don’t have a BlackBerry Z10 to play with, I have had feedback from at least two users, and this is the summary:

– BIS works on BB10 for BBM, but not for web browsing and other apps
– You can run other things via a generic data plan
– You can also use BBM on a generic data plan without BIS

I have a question: if indeed I can run BBM chats over a generic data plan, why would I subscribe to BIS in addition to such a plan? Why would I subscribe to two data services at the same time and spend even more? For security of my chats? I doubt that most people would bother.

Anyway, many GSM networks have announced special BB10 data plans already, and those plans are not exciting to existing BlackBerry subscribers, to say the least. So, if you are looking for data compression and the low maintenance costs that you have been used to from Nigerian GSM networks, please, wake up and smell the coffee. It is a new era here. BlackBerry 10 does not meet that need. To many people, BIS is as good as not existing on the platform.

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37 thoughts on “Understanding the BlackBerry 10 BIS Controversy

  1. So what's really the need for BIS. why are they trying to confuse folks out there. I think it's best bb10 users just stick to a single plan. Maybe the reason BlackBerry chose to have BIS still work on BB10 is for those on contracts who want to migrate to the new phones. Mr mo when are you getting yours?

  2. The idea now is that BB10 will be duking it out with other smartphone platforms on the pure merits of the OS rather than on cheap data plan it offers users of the platform in some countries and networks. It is really going to be a tough one for BB10 and this may also spell doom for BBM except RIM will now offer the service free at no extra cost or at a very small monthly subscription charge.

    This is a time of weaning for the data hungry BB suckling crowd. Fortunately, there's still the older BB platform that still supports the full BIS as we know it.

  3. What I would like to know exactly is if the old form of BIS stills works on the BlackBerry 10 devices. Can I browse the net, download music and videos just like before or would those things cost me extra.

    I blogged about MTN's tariff new tariff plan for BlackBerry 10 devices which is similar to the regular data plans for other smart phones. which gives credence to the thought that it doesn't work. And this excuse of data compression by Blackberry servers is blown out of proportion you can compress text, but images (jpeg), audio and videos remain uncompressed I have tried compressing jpegs, mp3 and various video formats using Zip, Rar and 7zip and the results give you a file size all most identical to what I started out with.

    Me thinks that BlackBerry is either trying to reduce costs or just bowing down to operator pressures.

    • And this excuse of data compression by Blackberry servers is blown out of proportion you can compress text, but images (jpeg), audio and videos remain uncompressed I have tried compressing jpegs, mp3 and various video formats using Zip, Rar and 7zip and the results give you a file size all most identical to what I started out with.


      You are getting your facts wrong. Images and videos CAN be compressed. Opera Mini does compress images (and you can see the loss of quality when it happens) and Skyfire has been compressing video for years. Here is a quote from the press release of Opera's acquisition of Skyfire:

      Rocket Optimizer on average provides mobile networks a 60 percent boost in capacity by reducing the size of video and other multimedia content as needed to fit the available bandwidth.

  4. @martinkem

    Am sure the tools Blackberry used for compression for those stuffs are totally different from the ones you mentioned.

  5. Very funny

    BB10 3000naira for 1GB
    Data Plan 3500 for 1.5GB

    I see people sticking to Old BB forever lol.

    Welcome to the real world friends.

  6. @Bosun99uk, If Blackberry is working on a lite model of BB10, will they make it slow to data craving? If not, there's still no difference in the whole game. Either Cheap BB10 or Expensive BB10, As far as it lacks BIS which attracted a whole lot of people to the train, BB10 is a pack of innovated ruins (maybe in this part of the world only).
    I can see the demise of Blackberry10 OS if the company does not look for a Moses to path their way.

    Who would be happy to drop an unlimited way of internet life for a much more catchy, yet, expensive and limited mode? Only if you're used to other high-end devices-- It wouldn't make a difference.
    Stick to your previous Blackberry Oses or leave the platform completely.

  7. I really dont know how people see this sha but if etisalat can continue with their unlimited data for BB10, I really dont have any issues with it.

  8. @Bosun99Uk

    They might use different tools but am pretty sure that they won't be able to achieve any results beyond what j have stated, these tools are these compression methods are the beat the industry has to offer, if there was something better someone would have made it available and made a ton of money from it

    And there would be no light or low range model of BB10 this year.

  9. @Olayinka Oladele

    Its Tecky people that use BB because of the data,

    The general user buy BB because of BBM and such users will be happy with a cheaper BB10 device.

  10. @martinkem

    BB has being in this industry, no be today oh and their praise on data compression has being as Old as BB itself.

    And I believe there is no official confirmation from BB that there would be no light or low range model of BB10 this year. I may be wrong and a link would be appropriate.

  11. Sam from Toronto here. I follow BlackBerry closely. Here's what I know

    1. The company had to make the near phones work the same way android / apple phones worked. These two companies have 90% of market. You have to use their standard or you'll get left behind. Even if the standard is inferior.

    2. BIS and BB7 will be supported for a long time yet. If anything the older handsets will become cheaper. Thorstein Heins has said over and over that the BlackBerry 7 market is important them.

    3. Enterprise clients who use a BES server still get all the goodies that BIS gives you. I would be curious to know how much it would cost to run a BES server in your part of the world. Maybe it would make sense for someone to make a business out of renting out user licenses? Just thinking out loud here.

    4. I am writing this on a BB10 Z10. She's a beauty! Yes, it is a data hog and yes battery is not nearly as good as my 9900, but the phone is beautiful and the interface is silky smooth and the keyboard rocks.

    Best to you all! Sam.

  12. @bosun99uk

    The BlackBerry might have been praised for data compression, email compression, bbm compression and the text part of website compression might work but trying to compress multimedia files like mp3, jpeg, 3gp and mp4 are a waste as these files are already compressed and trying to further compress it would give you a file size almost the same as the original and you succeed their would be irreparable loss of quality.
    Opera mini does full website compression by compressing text which is easy and reducing the quality and size of the images, something that is apparent.

    Do not be swayed easily by what you hear, rather by what you can prove.

    As for the links: No low-end BB10 devices this year and No budget BB10 devices this year.

  13. @Sammy Toro:
    Are you subtly implying that BB10 is a copy of Android and iOS? Making it to work like those implies copying them and the folks around here, I mean the BB users don't like hearing things like that. They would rather you tell them that Blackberry had reinvented the wheel.

    So, how close is BB10 is in operation to both iOS and Android. Also, how close is the interface to the two leadingi platforms?

  14. @Harry re "Are you subtly implying that BB10 is a copy of Android and iOS?"

    No, not at all. BB10 is, in my view, different and better than Apple/Android as an OS.

    What is common between them is the way they talk to mail servers and web servers. These three platforms all use a protocol called ActiveSync. ActiveSync is not as good as BIS but it is now the standard. If BB did not use ActiveSync, large corporations would be reluctant to buy BBs because it would be a pain in the ass doing one thing for one set of phones and another thing for a different kind of phone.

    >> Also, how close is the interface to the two leadingi platforms?

    The I/F is different and better. The new phones are ***really*** smooth. BB built this thing from the ground up. The base operating system is QNX which is a rippah of an embedded system OS that works in the space shuttle and high end routers.

    In my view, BB has leapfrogged Android and Apple. Your BB ladies will like BB10 very much!!!

  15. @martinkem

    Operators are not that dump if there is no significant difference in data compression they won't give BB preferential treatment.

    Thanks for the link, I was certain there was no official post from BB, I will take the words of the European MD Stephen Bates

  16. @bosun99uk

    on the operators not being that dumb, you have to first understand, that the BlackBerry as the first phone that eequired subscription to a data plan to be useful which meant more money for the operators do you think that they would argue with the opportunity to make mon y from every BlackBerry user. that was cool with them until people started downloading GB of data every month, even the iPhone and Android had unlimited data until the recently when then operators became wise to the data amounts consumed by people.

    Read this or This

  17. "I am writing this on a BB10 Z10. She’s a beauty! Yes, it is a data hog and yes battery is not nearly as good as my 9900...."

    The battery is worse than what is derived from a 9900?? Are they kidding me. 9900 is a reputed to have a piss poor battery already.

    Maybe in the future I would do BB10 but for now, nothing about it appeals to me. I love me apps and games. Yes you can port Andy's apps to BlackBerry platform but if I've an Android device (which I do), it renders this point redundant. As for data compression, that is the only thing keeping me with BlackBerry....and they just screwed it up.

  18. @ Khene: " for now, nothing about it [BB10] appeals to me"

    Have you tried one? Once you try one, you'll never go back. Android seems old, very, very old once you've had a test spin on BB10.

  19. Have you tried one? Once you try one, you’ll never go back. Android seems old, very, very old once you’ve had a test spin on BB10.

    This is a new mobile operating system and will have its deficiencies and annoyances. Windows Phone has received praises generally from people that have tried it, but it is very obvious that once you get over that usual initial fascination and enthusiasm and get down to real business, the mistake of being the first adopter becomes apparent. It was initially perceived that Windows Phone 8 made a lot of improvements over Windows Phone 7.x, and that is true, but some of the major deficiencies are still there. The Windows Phone was fashioned after iOS, and that has not changed much, in fact it even got worse I'm some cases when Windows Phone 8 is compared to Windows Phone 7.x.

    Maybe for regular users that don't use their phones beyond calls, SMS, IM, email and internet browsing, it will be Ok, but if you are the type that likes being in charge of your device and have some important applications that help you get the best out of your device, it is very much in order to wait for the platform to mature enough to support the slightly more than regular users.

  20. Mr. Mo, if you read through Martinkem's comments carefully, you will understand that he also implied that you can't reasonably compress these media formats losslessly. He even used the same Opera Mini that you used here as an example.

    In other words, the compression you achieve with multimedia compression is such that results in loss of quality of fidelity.

  21. Of course, the compression results in loss of quality. That is no news. Everyone who has used Opera Mini and Skyfire knows that. I said the very same thing in my article about proxy browsers. The people who need compression are content to put up with lower quality for the lower costs that they pay.

    Nothing goes for nothing. There is always a trade-off.

    The comments above make it sound like this compression of images and videos is an impossible task, and that should one succeed, it was a waste of time and resources. Here:

    trying to compress multimedia files like mp3, jpeg, 3gp and mp4 are a waste as these files are already compressed and trying to further compress it would give you a file size almost the same as the original and you succeed their would be irreparable loss of quality.

    That is just not true. Images and videos are compressed by as much as 40% and still produce viewable results. BlackBerry, Opera Mini and Skyfire are a testimony to that. Note the huge popularity of those brands. Lots of people find the compression useful enough to see the kind of adoption rates that they have.

    You don't like BlackBerry? Good. Your choice. But saying that "this excuse of data compression by Blackberry servers is blown out of proportion" is just not true and is very bad taste. Don't give a dog a bad name to hang it.

  22. Many Thanks for that comment Mr Mo,

    Compression of these stuffs did not start today we have been hearing and witnessing it for years.

  23. @henry thanks my brother,

    The sky fire browser compress es videos by a re-encoding them in a another format that leads to reduction of the average file size, but the BlackBerry from my personal usage doesn't do that, the mp3 remains the same with the same bitrate from the source, videos in mp4, avi that u have downloaded still remains the same, and mind these formats are all compressed formats.

    Data compression in my opinion on the BlackBerry is left to text portion, images (I doubt so the quality is retained, Opera mini allows you to chose the amount of compression of images in the settings, setting it to low or medium usually results in very noticeable quality loss now compatible that to the BlackBerry web browser, there is barely any quality loss )

    • martinkem,

      Yes; how compression is implemented on BlackBerry servers is different from how it is done on Opera Mini and Skyfire. For example, Opera Mini gives the user control of what levels of quality to experience. BlackBerry does not do that.

      However, unless you have done scientific tests to show that BB servers do not compress images at all, you are in no position to make that claim. Even if a mere 5% or 10% image compression is implemented on BB servers (which will likely result in almost unnoticeable loss of quality), the savings in cost that it translates to for those who use it is huge. You are in no position to say that BB compression is blown out of proportion. Millions of people are glad to have it because it does make a difference to them.

      But come to think of it, you did say it was your opinion. I should let it rest. Cheers.

  24. @mister mobility

    let's try an experiment, download JPEG, mp3 and mp4 video from the internet and trying compressing it with zip, Winrar or 7z compression utility. And see how much reduction you get. 60% reduction is impossible unless you are trying to compress mp2 or mp1, any format newer than that is impossible to get such compression.

    by me saying BlackBerry data compression is overrated I mean that it works for web pages, the HTML text, maybe JavaScript but no compression on jpeg which is already compressed to give u good quality with the file size (compressing any further would lead to appreciable data loss, any user of opera mini knows this first hand), mp3 are already compressed and have already lost some of it's quality naturally as one encodes into mp3 (There is a loseless audio format called flax and the file size for a 4 minute song starts at 16mb), video formats such as mp4, avi, mkv are already compressed (trying to re-encode them to make it smaller. an only be done either reducing the frame size say 1280x800 to 480x800 or smaller which would result in quality loss or reducing the bitrate which also result in appreciable quality).

    And I don't hate the BlackBerry, I don't hate anything (not even the devil gets hate from me).

    And am done here, do the experiment with any compression total you. an get from the internet and gauge your results.

  25. BB7 compression is lossless. This means images and video and sound files will not be further compressed using their technology and no advantage is to be had for such media components.

  26. I'm fine without compression EXCEPT for the fact that being Europe based and travelling a lot for my work (my own business email is on BIS), compression would save me on prohibitive data roaming fees around Europe. In my mind it's a shame if it's gone.

  27. The point about BIS or not, or compression or not, really only applies when people are roaming, and international roaming rates for not compressed data is quite huge. If BB were smart, they should keep email (which is why most people choose BB in the first place) and BBM under BIS and the rest as normal data.

    And when people are roaming, they can choose to turn on only BIS data and turn off normal roaming data. Usually, only email is really urgent when roaming in foreign countries. And if needed, people can still turn on normal data and pay through the roof

    The other benefit with BIS email when roaming is that is always works! SMTP email from iPhone/Android only works about 70% of the time for me when roaming, and 70% is not good enough for business use!

    I hope BB quickly understands this, or they will loose a lot more diehard BB customers

  28. There is quite a bit of misinformation on your post Mr Mo, BIS and BBC plans work on BB10 devices. I've got 2 with one running on BIS as we speak...the experience is the same. Even with a BBC plan, you get all the features, browser, BBM video, etc. Also the compression while not a requirement like before, It can still be done for BB10, If your network allows it.

    As for "low maintenance costs", depending on your network, you can buy an unlimited BBC plan for 1k only and use that on a BB10 device. Let's us know how much data you can get with that on a generic plan. 🙂



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