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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