Nearly a month back, WhatsApp stated that they will be ditching a few Operating Systems, including BlackBerry by the end of this year. This essentially means WhatsApp will no longer support BlackBerry OS and users will have to find alternatives.
In another blow to the OS, Facebook has also revealed that they will be cutting off all ties to the operating system by the end of this year. BlackBerry users will not longer be able to use Facebook on their phones in another nine months. Facebook will also take back important features like contact list synchronization, BB hub integration and notifications.
Facebook has announced that by 31st March, a lot of core functionality will be removed from its app on BlackBerry, and slowly the app itself will be removed from its store. Facebook can then only be accessed through webpage on the smartphones.
Surprisingly, it is not only the older versions, but even the newer version BlackBerry 10 will come under the ambit of exclusion. This year, BlackBerry decided to adopt Android OS and even unveiled the Priv which runs on Android’s latest version, however, other smartphones like the Passport and Z10 could not be spared.
In a long blog post, BlackBerry lamented the move and seemed extremely disappointed with the decision. In return, BlackBerry has requested its fans and users to express their feelings using the hashtag #ILoveBB10Apps. BlackBerry’s melancholy tone can also be sensed from the blog post, which seems more desperate, yet diplomatic, than ever.
An excerpt from the blog post read, “We are extremely disappointed in their decision as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands.”
Why did it come to this?
Although we agree this is a drastic step and Facebook and WhatsApp could have continued minimum support for BlackBerry users, the market share of BB users is declining and the tech giants don’t find anything profitable from these users.
Does it make sense for Facebook and WhatsApp to keep some developers engaged in upgrading their app for solely an old platform? Maybe not. The time and money spent in focussing on a very minor population for them is off their radar and this is the best way to get rid of it.
BlackBerry users have also mentioned that the handset maker itself isn’t providing any updates to its latest OS, which shows the lack of commitment on their end. In that case, tech giants will not care about their audience either, which already is miniscule in number. It gives Facebook and WhatsApp more reasons to quit providing support to BlackBerry OS.
BlackBerry’s remediation plan
In the blog post, Lou Gazzola, Senior Marketing Manager, Developer Relations at BlackBerry, wrote that they are focussing on developers creating thousands of new apps for BlackBerry users. They will be featuring top 20 applications on ‘Great Apps for BlackBerry’ every month to reward app developers who have created extraordinary applications.
The company is also trying to shift to other alternatives for WhatsApp-like free texting and file sharing platform, but are there really alternatives to Facebook? Even if they find an alternative, do they think people will switch completely to a new app designed specifically by BlackBerry developers?
They seem to be living in a state of denial and this is only harming their own community. Users have not been left with any option but switch to another OS before other app developers also end their support to the old BlackBerry OS. That is the day BlackBerry will realise how much it has taken its users for granted.