Dear Muyo-san, This is a response to your earlier write up: 5 reasons why I’ll still use WhatsApp after BBM goes cross-platform. You sought to

Why you should drop WhatsApp like hot coal when BBM becomes available

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BBM versus WhatsApp

Dear Muyo-san,

This is a response to your earlier write up: 5 reasons why I’ll still use WhatsApp after BBM goes cross-platform. You sought to explain why WhatsApp remains the messaging app of choice. Now I seek to show that you are wrong. Here I tackle your points with my own counter-positions.

On waiting. There are two types of software approaches. I’ll call them the Google approach and the Apple/BlackBerry/Microsoft approach. You may have caught hint of the distinction here. The Google approach will think up a product, app, or service, create it and release it immediately to the public. We become the beta testers. The first few versions are usually really crappy. But they quickly take out bugs, release updates rapidly and fix up up gradually until the product becomes refined. Two fine examples of this are Android and Google Maps. I do not need to explain further.

Then there is the other approach, where the company takes its time to do some extensive internal testing. They’ll rather release late, or early without enough features than bring it out a half-arsed product with the features having issues half the time. Think BB10, iPhones, and Windows OS iterations.

BlackBerry is using the latter approach with BBM, and I think it is a good approach.

BBM is going to be free

No matter how you choose to slant it, nothing beats free sometimes. Starting with the negative effects of ads, justifying WhatsApp’s monetisation method, and going off on another tangent predicting (with some assurance) as to why BlackBerry chooses to make BBM open, then crowning it up with some vague future possibilities to put down BBM, this is worthy of applause. You succeeded in bamboozling your way to justify why a subscription-based WhatsApp is better than a (hopefully) free BBM. But do not complicate this one, let’s make it simple. WhatsApp attracts yearly charges after the first year of use. BBM promises to be free. BBM is a better messaging application (still coming to that). It’s a no brainer. Unless you’re a business user, when you have two equally decent services, with one free and one paid, you’ll very likely go for the free one. Now, even if BBM decides to monetise the mass users in the future, is there a problem with that? I don’t think so. Like I said, better app. 😀

WhatsApp has a wider reach

Okay, I concur with that a bit. It’s everywhere, from the S40 to Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone. There is even a Maemo/Meego port. But that doesn’t make it better than BlackBerry Messenger. You say WhatsApp processes about 20 billion messages per day, and BBM is a close second. I’ll assume your data is true. But shouldn’t this even be a thing of marvel? BBM is presently only on two smartphone platforms, the legacy BlackBerries and the newer BB10 devices, yet it beats all the other IM apps in the level of engagement, and it almost challenges WhatsApp with the number of messages per day, even with the latter being on all major smartphone platforms and then more. If BBM can achieve such a feat while it is still limited to BlackBerries, I wonder what the number will become when they expand over to other platforms.

BBM has a better user experience

I have no idea where you got that erroneous notion. You seem to assume that the BBM on BlackBerry 10 devices are better compared to the ones on legacy phones. Actually this isn’t exactly true. Apart from the screen sharing, and video calling options, (which are nice little additions by the way) the older BBM is head to head, if not a bit better, with the BB10 versions. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, it does what it’s supposed to do. But I’ve equally heard some BB10 owners throw up complaints about their BBM, such as the lack of separate notification options for each group, missing notifications for group picture updates, congesting recent updates section by listing updates from each contact separately instead of grouping it contact-by-contact like it’s done on the older phones, issues that we older users don’t have on our BBM apps

You talked about tabs. But you did not notice that WhatsApp is quite a bit akin to BBM in its interface. While BBM chooses to make the tabs horizontally placed, BBM makes them vertically arranged, though they’re essentially the same thing. BBM has (mainly) four tabs; recent updates, active chats, the full contact list and groups. And each of them can be expanded or contracted at will. You can leave the active chats open and have the rest closed and still have notification icons for each tab, opening the tab will list all the items under it and you see the one that needs your attention. You say WhatsApp is simple? BMM is far much simpler once you get the hang of it, which won’t even take up to half a day of use to do. When you open WhatsApp you’re greeted with what you were on the last time the app was running, this is same on BBM. Your statement to the effect that the first thing you see is your active chats on opening WhatsApp is patently false.

Your purpose of using the app is to chat with your friends, others desire much more, and they get it. You desire nothing more, you can have it, like I mentioned in my last comment, making BBM behave as you want it simply involves toggling a few items in the options screen. You want a full fledged Twitter-esque social network with all bells and whistles, it’s yours. You want a simple app that does nothing more than sending and receiving messages, you have it. WhatsApp doesn’t even have recent updates, a shame.

Simplicity is only so wonderful when you want it.

BBM is cheaper

Another of your interesting permutations. Wasn’t it less than a week ago Mister Mo still listed BlackBerry as one of the devices you get more bang for the buck. There are BlackBerries less than N30,000, whether it’s new or fairly used you want. They are not that expensive any more. A BlackBerry subscription on MTN and Etisalat is one thousand naira, and you get 2.5-3GB of BIS data. Note that I didn’t say BBM data, as BBM is not the only thing people use their BlackBerry subscriptions for. And less I forget, you can use BBM on MTN even when you exhaust your data, but it will be for normal pay-as-you-go data rates.

WhatsApp cannot do everything BBM does

Doing a feature-to-feature comparison of the two apps is gonna take quite a lot of time. But let me just put it simply, BBM can do almost absolutely everything WhatsApp does, then some more. Those things that WhatsApp is capable of, BBM does them much better. The only thing I can think of right now that WhatsApp may use to trump BBM is the number of data types that can be shared in a group. On BBM, one can only share photos and calendar data among a group while videos and audio files can additionaly be shared on WhatsApp. In every other feature, BBM simply trounces it. And I won’t even talk of ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ tags, the privacy, ability to send any file type to a contact, or the assurance that you won’t lose your chats after a forced device reboot or removing your SD card, and the customisability – all the customisability. *sigh* no I won’t mention those at all 😉

After considering these I wonder, what serious edge will WhatsApp have over BBM when it finally launches on these platforms? What does WhatsApp bring to the table that will convince me to stay?

There, fixed it for ya! 😀

PS: I base my assertions here on first hand experiences of both apps on BlackBerry and WhatsApp on all the other platforms except iOS. None of it is conjecture.


  1. I see often people writing that whatsapp is charged after first year of free service. I have been using whatsapp for over 4 years, and I have never being charged.
    when I check my expiration date, it keeps getting pushed back as it gets nearer, I really don’t know why.

    You also implied rebooting makes one lose chats, that only happens on BlackBerry, it has never happened on my Symbian and Android devices, I have even switched ROMS and my chats stayed without using titanium back up.

    Your other points are valid, but still I believe the chat terrain is to volatile for one to predict what’s going to happen.

  2. Hello sir, I hope you won’t take my view of this post too personal.

    First, there are too many contradictions in this post, you said bbm is free, then later you said its hopefully free. So which one do we stand with? Then you went ahead to say “I concur with that a bit” to the wide reach of whatsapp whereas you’ve said earlier that you want to “points with my own counter-
    positions.” It really sounds as if you really don’t have a point to argue. Most of the points are poorly argued.

    And where is the simplicity that I know about mobility blog articles? This isn’t a well written piece. We don’t sound techy to pass our message across. some of us reader aren’t tech savvy. we come here become of the simplicity of issues that are discussed here. I hope I haven’t offended you. I just needed to say what I think of this particular piece, because I could not even read it to the end. Thanks.

  3. I am always.adventurous with apps. so, I would surely test lthe BBM app becomes available.

    However, for me, there is no way I will jettison Whatsapp for it.

    The reason is simple, and this reason is the most critical to this debate…for me

    Far more people use Whatsapp than BBM. And what I have read everywhere shows the difference is very great.

    I dont think those supposed extra minor BBM features outweigh the power of Whatsapp’s larger audience. They are nice additions, but they are not critical.

    Lots of people on BBM are also on Whatsapp, unless they are unaware of Whatsapp.

  4. Response to mr olafam. I think the article was written by an active reader of he sent this as a response to an article written by the owner.

  5. Of course, the status quo remains that WhatsApp is the no 1 multi-platform messenger but when BBM comes to iDroid, WhatsApp may have to hand over the sceptre to BBM if they don’t stick a new (-eye catching) thing into their messenger. But what would that be?

    Come to think of it, as far as I know, WhatsApp gets the fans, BBM gets the integrity. Some of my friends are already sauntering down the Tecno L3 and M3 lane; anxiously waiting for BBM to arrive.
    The Nigerians that I know will park WhatsApp for BBM! They just want to make use of the word ‘ping’.
    Pardon me if I limit my view to this part of the world only.

  6. Olafam, thanks for the remarks. I said BBM is going to be free as the BlackBerry Ogas declared. But I added the “hopeful” proviso because, until it’s actually released anything can change.

    “You sought to explain why WhatsApp remains
    the messaging app of choice. Now I seek to show
    that you are wrong. Here I tackle your points with
    my own counter-positions.”

    That is the point of my article.

  7. “Of course, the status quo remains that
    WhatsApp is the no 1 multi-platform messenger
    but when BBM comes to iDroid, WhatsApp may
    have to hand over the sceptre to BBM if they
    don’t stick a new (-eye catching) thing into their
    messenger. But what would that be?”

    Gbam. These non BBM users don’t know what they’ve been missing, really

  8. Please, what sceptre? Even 2go still has more users than BBM. WhatsApp wooed 2go users by coming to s40.
    Numbers don’t lie. At least for now.

  9. you sir have me confused…. and bbm will surely (mark my word) not be free.. and about android os being “beta” when it released. the first blackberry os made, was it perfect?

  10. @Sojimi “…Even 2go still has more users than BBM…numbers don’t lie”
    What is the source of your numbers, sir?

    @Tochi, when the makers of BBM said it’ll be free, for the average user at least, your overwhelming confidence in believing otherwise is a bit baffling.

    Who said anything about perfection? I just distinguished between how Google usually does its thing unlike BlackBerry’s method, I didn’t really criticise either.

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