BlackBerry Instant Messaging Clients (Head-to-Head Review)

After encountering a half-zillion different IM clients the other week, we thought it might be prudent to throw them all in the ring together and see how they compare. It’s a beefy list, indeed… in terms of stand-alone clients, we have BlackBerry Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk. Among the multi-platform apps, we have Palringo, IM+, Mundu, Instango, JiveTalk, and WebMessenger.

AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ and Microsoft Live Messenger are also options if you’re packing a supported device.

After checking out the bundled BlackBerry Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk, there were some common features beyond straight-up communication: copying chat history, sending files, voice notes and pictures from the camera, and linking contacts to your BlackBerry’s address book. No matter what IM client you go by, these should be some of the things you’re looking for.

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger is the default chatting application that comes with your device, which is probably its biggest selling point. You know that everybody else who has a BlackBerry has the app loaded as well, making it a great common platform across companies which might restrict application loading. One thing that clunks up the IM process is requiring contacts in your address book before being able to load them into BlackBerry Messenger. There’s a [Use Once] field that lets you get around that, but greater independence from the Address Book would still be nice. Still, it’s a solid client, and I had used it well before dabbling in anything ported from the desktop.

Yahoo! Messenger

Yahoo! Messenger is another bundled chat client, that shares the handiness of BlackBerry Messenger of popping up right in your Messages list with every incoming IM. Yahoo! offers a slightly fuller-bodied experience, with goodies like extra status types and profile pictures. If you already use Yahoo!, this is a solid way to go, and again, it’s hard to argue with pre-loaded software.

24 Responses to “BlackBerry Instant Messaging Clients (Head-to-Head Review)”

  1. 1 Gavin

    Nice article. I use BBMessenger and WLM myself. Thats all i really need.
    With BB Messenger you can add somebody by PIN without them being in your address book. It took me a while to figure it out but when I did it was fine. In BBM go to add a contact. Scroll to the top to the [Use Once] and press the menu key. You will see the Request by PIN option.

  2. 2 jacob

    you don’t have to have someone in your address book to add them in BBM………I’m ashamed that I have to tell this to someone who writes full time for a blog about blackberry’s but whatever…

    when you do Add a contact, scroll up to the top and highlight the “Use Once…” option……Click the blackberry button (left side of trackball) and click “Request By PIN” ….easy as that

  3. 3 alex

    simon, bro. go in bb messenger, add a contact and go to the top… you can do an “add by pin” or “add by email” on the use once contact at the top.

  4. 4 JFranchetti

    Maybe it is too “Enterprise” focused, though you left off “Lotus Sametime for Blackberry”.

  5. 5 Kevin Baggs

    The other advantage of BB Messenger is that it doesn’t count as text messages on your carrier’s plan as the messages are sent on RIM’s servers. (confirmed with Rogers)

  6. 6 Josh Lloyd

    Great article! I have been curious for some time on the difference between all these different IM clients.

    I’ve played around with Palringo a bit, when they launched beta. It was ok. The audio recording didn’t work yet, which I was really looking forward to.
    You didn’t mention how it lets you create groups, like little chat rooms. I think that’s pretty handy. I did end up going back to Jivetalk, though, which I’ve used for a year and a half. It’s a very reliable app, and I love the interface. Very much like iChat. Plus I actually had to pay for it, so I felt like I was wasting it to go to a free beta app.

  7. 7 Tareq

    Thanks for the article Simon.

    One thing that grabbed my attention though, as you pointing out that you would like the BB Messanger to be able to add contacts using their PIN if they are not in your address book. As a matter of fact, you can. I don’t know why RIM would make it so hard to find on my 8800 but I found a way at last. Pretty easy when it comes down to it. Open the application, go to “Add a Contact”, hoghlight the “Use Once” field, then pres menu. It will give you an option to add by PIN for someone who is not in your address book.
    Just wanted to point that out.

  8. 8 MarvinK

    I think you can add by PIN in BB Msgr…

    Jivetalk is definitely the best IM client. The only thing it is really missing is notification at the top of the screen and/or in the inbox-like BlackBerry Messenger and other RIM-sponsored programs. I’ve emailed Jivetalk about those features-and they say RIM hasn’t allowed that type of code in the SDK, so they can’t add it.

    Seems lame on RIM’s part, if that truly is the case.

  9. 9 Chris Naylor

    pingback from

  10. 10 Jorge

    I was waiting from a veridict from you. And the winner is???

    - Blackberry messenger is cleary not a winner, since you cannot chat with people not having a blackberry, which is…. many people. Besides, not a fun application.
    - I use IM+, GoogleTalk and Yahoo. Probably like features of Yahoo MS, but IM+ I use most since I can chat with any user, it is complete application. What I miss is not having multimedia features having in MSN, Yahoo, etc… I hope new blackberries (Bold, etc…) will add these things that make fun chatting: Cool avatars, animations (MSN and Yahoo), etc…

    Have a good chatting

  11. 11 Zavantas

    It is possible to add contacts to BlackBerry Messenger by pin:
    Add a contact
    [use once] -> push on the menu button
    Request by PIN

  12. 12 Simon Sage

    Thanks for jumping on the PIN thing, y’all - it’s surprisingly easy to miss simple things like that. :)

    As for the winner, Jorge, when it comes to looking at this many products, it’s much trickier to pin down one as top dog. If I were to go with one, it would either be JiveTalk or Mundu, but really, all of these are trying to do slightly different things while sticking to the same core function… It really just depends on your particular needs.

  13. 13 BlackBerry Cool Douglas

    Here’s an interesting question: how many im clients are you willing to use on your BlackBerry? For myself, it’s two: gtalk and BB Messenger. Anything after that seems like bloatware.

    How about you guys?

  14. 14 portorikan

    I use BB Messenger, gtalk and AIM, although I hardly sign onto aim much, but it’s still on there.

  15. 15 nan

    I currently am running BB Messenger, which is hugely used in our company. Next would be Google Talk, thanks Douglas. Third is WLM since I FINALLY was able to get it yesterday for my Sprint 8830. It works really well and has just as good of integration as Google Talk. BTW, a new version of Google Talk was just released. Great write up Simon!

  16. 16 BlackBerry Cool

    Thanks for the reminder, nan! Here are the links for the updates:

    WLM for BlackBerry 8830

    Google Talk Update

  17. 17 Doug

    What is the difference using email vs pin when adding a messenger contact? Do both go via RIM or one needs the enterprise server?

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