August 1, 2005. That’s the day that hundreds of people started downloading BlackBerry Messenger v1.0 for the very first time as BlackBerry Principal Architect and main creator of BBM, Gary Klassennervously sat at his desk. Originally planned for release as a part of BES 4.1, only a small number of employees were involved with the first version of BBM, which was to be called QuickMessenger untilJeremy Kettle came up with the term BBM – BlackBerry Messenger – during a meeting. A name that ultimately ended up being added to the English Collins Dictionary in 2012.
Speaking on those beginnings with the Inside BlackBerry Blog, Jonathan Nobles, the first product manager for BBM in 2005 recalled some of the early days of BBM.
“We were experimenting with various instant messaging ideas. We discovered that if we took the existing PIN to PIN solution and wrapped it in a nice GUI (Graphical user interface), we had a great product”.
A highlight of the early days confirmed by BlackBerry Principal Architect and main creator of BBM, Gary Klassen, who noted.
“PIN to PIN [messaging] always had D’s and R’s,” he said, referring to status updates showing when messages were Delivered and Read by users, “but they weren’t on by default”. Turning those features on in BBM created a pioneering sense of real-time presence that’s now standard for many instant messaging applications.
“BBM was the first form of text communication that was instant, cross-carrier, and mobile, in a time when people were still attached to their PCs,” says Klassen, who still invents things as a principal architect at BlackBerry. “With desktop IM’s, you could show up as ‘online’, but you might not be at your computer. BBM was the first to be always with you, and you were truly always ‘online’.”
From there, BBM grew immensely thanks to the speed in which messages were delivered in addition to its low-bandwidth requirements. Today, new features have taken BBM to a level that was never really thought of at the time of its original development. As the Inside BlackBerry Blog notes, BBM has now become a social media platform, a medium for advertising, gaming and m-commerce, and the foundation of business-collaboration and highly-secure messaging services. Looking for some more background on BBM? Check out our video from CrackBerry Live with Gary Klassen. I think we’ll have to have a contest on August 1.