First Impressions of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Voice Service Beta


RIM recently launched the BBM Voice service in the latest version of BBM, version 7. The service works in a pretty behind-the-scenes manner, adding a Voice Dial icon to any BBM profile that has the latest version and can utilize BBM Voice. The service runs off the WiFi network and allows you to potentially save a great deal of money by not using up voice minutes and piggybacking on a simple BBM data plan. I’ve spent a few days using the service, and I thought I’d put together some initial impressions on the service.

Huge for Third World

BBM Voice is going to be amazing for those with a prepaid BlackBerry and a BBM Plan. This way, you can save all your voice minutes for emergencies and leverage WiFi to make calls. This is also going to be great for those who make long distance calls often. If you have family abroad with BBM, you can now call them for free.

Smart WiFi-Style Apps

Apps such as Little Brother and Smart WiFi are going to be very complementary to BBM Voice. One of the problems with BBM Voice is that it requires a WiFi connection, but leaving your WiFi on outside of the network can cause battery drain. Applications such as Little Brother by Emacberry, allows you to geofence your WiFi zones, thus saving battery and automatically kicking you onto a WiFi Network.

You can download Little Brother for free in App World at this link.

You can buy Smart WiFi for $2.99 at this App World link.

Voice is Dead

Voice is a boring, outdated way of communicating that, while still popular for certain cases such as conference calls, sales and support, it’s going to be a small percentage of overall communication relative to technologies such as video chat, instant messaging and social networks. BBM Voice is an excellent product but one can’t help but think that it would have been a much better product to launch 2-3 years ago, and that it’s not necessarily the best time to launch a voice product. It’s an especially bad time as RIM is currently facing criticism for not being innovative.


As it stands, I find myself only using BBM Voice as a novelty feature. Many of my BlackBerry Messenger contacts have moved on to other smartphones, making my BBM Contact list pretty sparse. That, combined with both parties having to be on WiFi, means there are few situations where BBM Voice can be activated. It reminds me of the PlayBook video chat in that respect. It’s hard to find a convenient time when the right contact is available on WiFi and you’re both looking to talk to one another. This product seems best for those on prepaid BlackBerrys with a BBM Plan who are looking to save minutes, and therefore I’m just not the target market for the product.

If you’re looking to get on BBM Voice, check it out in the BlackBerry Beta Zone at this link.

  • Lucy

    I respectfully disagree that voice is a boring way of communication. You can say way more in 30 seconds than you can type and receive an answer. I use voice notes frequently and will be using voice call as much as possible with friends in Japan, Beijing and Cyprus when they can get the update.

  • Kyle McInnes

    Some people definitely prefer voice and that’s fine. Voice requires a lot of pleasantries before the conversation actually starts. “Hi, how are you, it’s Kyle.” and so forth. I can simply send an email that says “send me the file.” and I’m done. But I understand people enjoy different communication methods.

  • Raj

    I completely disagree that voice is boring. Second of all if im runnin a business with multiple offices i can use bbm voice an save on minutes. Third world and emerging markets is where the moolah is right now. With most western countries facing financial trouble. Asia is the market to look at. EX: india has a population of 1.2 billion, if RIM succedds in targetting only 1percent of its population, they will sell a good 1.2 million phones. Thats only india, if you the other asian markets, its a win win situation if RIM bb 10 is priced properly.

  • neteng1000

    Hummmm…….1% of 1.2B is actually 12M. Just saying

  • Diego Nei

    Third World? Really? What is this? 1980s? ¬¬

  • Diego Nei

    “Send me that file”. Such a High C! O.o

    Nothing wrong with that if you are dealing with another high C, but a high S and a high I would be pissed at you.

    Anyway, voice does not have to be a time waster either : “Hey, Bill! Hi! Can you send me that file ASAP? Coo,l thanks! Bye!”

  • Kyle McInnes

    What’s a “high C” and a “high S”?

  • Kyle McInnes

    Is it politically incorrect to say “third world” or something? Sorry…”developing nations”.

  • Diego Nei

    They are communication profiles. Check out the DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) model when you have a moment!