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BBM vs. iMessage: Which Messaging App Is Better for Business?

BBM vs. iMessage: Which Messaging App Is Better for Business?
How does BBM stack up against iMessage for business? / Credit: BlackBerry

It's the battle of the messaging apps. Although short message service (SMS) and multimedia messaging service (MMS) are still standard, alternative messaging apps are shaking up the mobile industry.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is the latest messaging app to join the pack. But is BlackBerry's beacon of hope better than iMessage for business users? Although similar in function, BBM and iMessage each benefit business users in different ways.

BBM is BlackBerry's free, Web-based instant messaging app. Previously only available on BlackBerry devices, BBM was officially released for iOS and Android on Oct. 25. Within eight hours of its release, BBM had 5 million downloads; at the end of its first week as a cross-platform app, BBM had added 20 million new active users, for a total of 80 million active users across BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices — a testament to its popularity despite consumers' diminishing demand for BlackBerry smartphones.

[How to Use BBM (Blackberry Messenger) on Your iPhone]

iMessage is Apple's free, Web-based instant messaging service. It is part of the Messages app and is available exclusively on the iPhone and cellular-enabled iPads running iOS 4 and later and Macs running OS X Mountain Lion and later. 

BBM works by enabling users to communicate in real time. Unlike SMS text messages and MMS multimedia messages that are part of your carrier's plan, BBM uses mobile data and Wi-Fi to send and receive instant messages, pictures, voice notes and video calls. 

BBM has several features that business users will love: 

  • Instant messaging— BBM users can send and receive instant messages up to 2,000 characters long in a matter of seconds.
  • Delivery confirmation — BBM shows you when instant messages, pictures and voice notes are delivered and read.
  • Real-time collaboration — BBM Groups lets you plan events, share pictures and chat with up to 30 contacts at the same time; BBM Voice allows you to make free calls anywhere around the world via Wi-Fi; and BBM Video enables videoconferencing. The Screen Share feature also lets you share documents, photos, browser content, the view from your camera and other content on your screen.
  • Social integration— BBM-connected apps enable BBM chat within the connected app and can send app information to BBM contacts (for instance, share tweets via the Twitter app and status updates via the Facebook app) without the hassle of exiting the app to open BBM.
  • Personalization— Customize your BBM name, profile photo and status to let contacts know what you're up to.
  • Build contacts easily — Add BBM contacts by entering a user's phone number, email or unique BBM PIN, or scan his or her BBM bar code.

BBM is available out-of-the-box on BlackBerry devices and via the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play marketplace for Android. BBM Video is only available on BlackBerry 10 smartphones. 

Like BBM, iMessage works by giving users free, unlimited real-time communication over the Web, outside of a carrier's SMS and MMS plans. Unlike BBM, which is available on BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices, iMessage users can only send messages to and from iOS and OS X devices. However, iMessage can also send SMS text and MMS messages to non-iOS and OS X devices via a carrier's cellular network. 

Because iMessage is limited to those using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or a Mac, it offers a range of features that seamlessly integrate messaging capabilities across these devices.

  • Text, multimedia and more— Similar to BBM, iMessage lets users exchange text-only messages, photos and videos. It can also send locations, contacts and other types of information.
  • Delivery confirmation — iMessage also shows you when your message was received and read, as well as whether the recipient is typing up a reply.
  • Group messaging— Using iMessage, you can collaborate with your team by sending text messages, photos, videos or links to a group of people. This will create a group chat environment in which everyone can share their thoughts and view others' responses.
  • Sync — iMessage syncs messages across your devices. For example, if you're using iMessage on your iPhone to text a business partner and need to get some work done, you can continue the conversation on your iPad or MacBook Pro.
  • Voice command — Have your hands full or in a hurry? iMessage is fully integrated with Siri, iOS' intelligent personal assistant, so you can dictate your message hands-free and on-the-go. 

Although BBM and iMessage offer similar functionalities, what sets them apart are their security features. 

BlackBerry, which is trusted by governments and financial institutions, lives up to its name of having the best-in-class security by making BBM the most secure mobile messaging app yet. Using a PIN-to-PIN messaging system, BBM messages are encrypted during transmission: messages are encrypted using a key that identifies the sender, goes through a firewall before hitting the server, and then can only be decrypted by the private key from whom the message is intended. For businesses that require an extra layer of protection, encryption keys can also be changed to those unique to the company; messages can also be encoded to the company's preference to further protect sensitive information. 

Messages sent via iMessage have end-to-end encryption. However, Apple has recently come under fire after security experts claimed they have proof that Apple and the NSA can read messages sent via iMessage. The problem is that despite encryption, Apple is the one managing the keys to encrypt and decrypt messages, giving them the freedom to change keys and intercept messages at will, researchers said. Apple has since denied the allegations, attributing them to "theoretical vulnerabilities" that are not possible with the iMessage architecture.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a Los Angeles-based tech writer for Business.com, Business News Daily and Tom's IT Pro. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, she has worked as a freelance writer and copywriter for tech publications, lifestyle brands and nonprofit organizations in the Southern California area and throughout the U.S. Sara joined the Purch team in 2013.