And also like BBM, if you want to connect so someone on another network, you are out of luck.
Such single-platform communications tools may have made sense when a single platform — the BlackBerry — dominated the discussion for business smartphones. But in the age of theconsumerization of IT, where IT departments are largely allowing mobile devices to be a personal buying decision, the value proposition is much greater. The trend, which generally allows users to pick their own device and purchase it with an allotted budget, has permeated so far that even the U.S. government is eyeing a “bring your own” strategy.
There are ways to make this kind of third-party direct connection across platforms happen.WhatsApp, a 99-cent download, offers users BBM/iMessage-like functionality, including group chat, across iOS, Android and BlackBerry. But compared to functionality that is, or will be soon, baked directly into a device’s operating environment, relatively few people know of such an app. And the number of people searching for the functionality is likely to decline, as a certain group will find the iOS-only nature of iMessage enough to meet their needs.
There have been persistent rumors that RIM is looking at bringing BBM to Android and iOS. The arrival of iMessage in iOS 5.0 would suggest that at least Apple’s mobile platform will be closed to BBM as an app.
One can hope that, pressured on all sides by users, the major smartphone platform vendors will find a way to get their disparate messaging systems connected. Or, it is possible that a scrappy third-party upstart–be it WhatsApp, a more traditional cross platform IM app like Skype, or a whole new tool yet to see the light of day–will come up with enough killer features and mindshare to overcome the incumbency advantages of BBM and now iMessage.
But it would be a shame for one of the most promising business communication tools in a long time to fizzle out because BlackBerry and iPhone users can’t easily collaborate, whether it’s last-minute planning for a crucial meeting or just trying to figure out where to go for drinks after work.