I have been amused reading the IM war between fans of WhatsApp and die-hard BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) users. I have used both extensively and have my own preference. I am pretty certain that I will adopt BBM when it launches on Android and iOS. I wish that the app would be available for Windows Phone, but that cannot be helped. Thankfully, I own phones that run both Android and Windows Phone and so will not be left out of the BBM craze.
BBM Delivery & Read Statuses
BBM tells me when my message has been read, and does it with accuracy. WhatsApp only tells me when it has been delivered. Some will say that I can check when last the contact was online to determine when my message has been read. I disagree. One: someone may be online, yet has not read my delivered message for any number of reasons. Second: that time stamp is often way off and so unreliable. Just a few days ago, I was chatting with someone at 1.50pm, yet the WhatsApp time stamp read “Last seen today at 7.16a”. I have seen that happen too many times.
While I love the fact that WhatsApp is universal because it works based on your phone number, eventually, I found out that I much prefer the ability to determine who connects with me at all in the first place. The ability to choose is priceless. I am a public figure and my phone number often gets around. That means a huge amount of contacts on WhatsApp, though I’d love to keep my experience there a little tighter. With BlackBerry, I get to determine who I connect with.
On WhatsApp, if someone adds you to a Group, your phone number is automatically accessible to everyone who is a part of that group, whether you want that or not. I have also seen people in my WhatsApp contact that I do not know from anywhere. Perhaps we had belonged to a Group or something. I can’t fully explain it, but it happens. When I try to find out who they are (nicely of course), they don’t know me either – and sometimes, their responses tell me that they suspect that I am attempting to pull a fast one. Usually, I ask if they’d love for me to delete their number. The whole thing is such a chore.
Still on privacy, I honestly am not excited about the WhatsApp time stamp. Regardless of how valid my reasons for not responding to a message on time, there are contacts who just get offended that their message was delivered and I was online, yet sent no reply. There is something called prioritising tasks. I may be online and very busy with others at the time, or attending to business matters (for those of us who work remotely). For example, Mobility staff have a dedicated WhatsApp group for easy communications. Yet, people get offended because WhatsApp tells them that I am online though I am not responding to them. I’d rather just avoid that dilemma and the misunderstandings that arrive from it. WhatsApp time stamp, when it works for the most part, is a horrible snitch. I have the right to be online or offline at any time that I choose, doing whatever I choose to do at the time without having to explain to people who cannot wrap their heads around that. I want my privacy back.
On BBM, no-one knows when I am online, and a message sent to me gets read by me when I have the time to attend to it and to reply. Usually, when a contact gets notified that I have read their message, my reply is on the way. It is just a saner way to live.
PS: By the way, the Mobility staff Group moves to BBM in the next few days (ignore the typo please):
To infinity and beyond…
Those are my two key reasons for preferring BBM to WhatsApp. Yes; the latter app has a wider footprint than BBM, but I don’t care. I do not think that there is anyone out there whose goal is to be able to chat with everyone on the planet. It is like Twitter for me. After I crossed following 250 people, it became difficult to keep up. I have restrained myself in following more handles as much as possible, not because I do not like them but because I just can’t deal with the deluge of information on my TL. In the same way, after a number of contacts, IM becomes tasking. I want to keep things lean and trim.
I am not prone to jumping between multiple chat platforms. My chosen IM platform used to be Yahoo Messenger, and if you were not there, that was it. All other platforms suffered, and if anyone sent me messages elsewhere, it took me time to respond because I was active primarily on Yahoo. People would send me Gtalk and Facebook messages and it would take ages to get a response from me. As Yahoo declined, I jumped on BBM. The problem with BBM was that if you didn’t own a BlackBerry any more, you were out. As such, I defaulted to the cross-platform WhatsApp. The picture has now changed. I can be on BBM without owning a BlackBerry device any more.
Yes; I would take BBM over WhatsApp if I can help it – and hopefully, I will be able to help it from today, 21st September 2013. Chances are that I will abandon WhatsApp as soon as I establish myself back on BBM.