Once the undisputed leader in the world of mobile instant messaging, BlackBerry Messenger will officially cease to exist by the end of May.

This comes after a blog post by Emtek, the company that has been running the BBM app since 2016, announced a decision to end support for the messaging app on 31 May.

However, Emtek added that an enterprise version of BBM, called BBMe, would still be accessible to both corporate and individual users at a nominal fee of $2.49 (roughly R35) every six months. Users will be able to access BBMe cost-free for a year before the subscription fee would be charged.

BBM’s shutdown comes after a hard fight to stay relevant in the face of competing against similar apps like WhatsApp, which took over the market when BlackBerry mobile devices gave way to the rising popularity of Android phones and the Android operating system they use.

“We are proud of what we have built to date, “ Emtek wrote in the blog post. “The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”

Users who still make use of BBM should take note that existing BBM conversations, photos, stickers and other data will not be transferred when they create a new account with BBMe, so these will have to be downloaded by users before 31 May rolls along.

In 2017, BlackBerry Messenger still had around 9 million users in South Africa, with BBM CEO Matthew Talbot expressing his hope that it would become one of the two top chat apps in the country.

However, WhatsApp has become the leader in mobile messaging apps on the continent, with an estimated 38 million unique mobile users using the platform in South Africa.

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