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IM as Team Sport

May 3, 2010  

The Blackeyed Peas' will.i.am recently raised eyebrows during a concert in Florida when he freestyled, in real-time, anything users sent to his BlackBerry.

You're thinking, "Whoa, that's a lot of people with will.i.am's number." Thankfully, he still reserves that for his friends. The messages were sent to him via the instant-messaging program Blackberry Messenger.

Research in Motion incorporates BBM in newer versions of BlackBerry phones. Instead of buying a texting program or getting charged per-message, proud Blackberry owners get to message on BBM for absolutely free! And the number of Blackberry loyalists is growing, particularly among BBM-savvy teenagers—a demographic that RIM increasingly targets.


Here's how BBM works: You're at a party. You meet someone who seems cool, but you're not sure. Instead of exchanging numbers, you exchange PINs—which, when added to another user's BBM account, adds you as a contact. In a recent software update, BBM now comes with 2D barcodes, an even easier way to exchange details: Take a snapshot of someone's barcode, and whammo, the two of you can keyboard-chat the night away.

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