I believe Blackberry has a hidden social network that remains untapped, underused and misunderstood. A picture of it can be found to the right.
I am of course talking about the Blackberry Messenger service or “BBM” as many people tend to call it. This is the built in instant messaging or IM network inside the blackberry that lets you talk to your friends. It has many of the features we have come to expect from a good IM client such as showing when someone is typing to ease the flow of conversation, and another feature which is rather infamous showing when a message is delivered (D) and when a message is read (R) completing the feedback loop to whomever wrote the message.
It also has native abilities to send images, sounds, and videos taken with the Blackberry in real time and of course media stored on your device.
I think Blackberry has an amazing network of people on their network who use this service religiously. I know of some people who use it to get in touch with family, others with all their friends, and still more who have not made the switch to the iPhone because of this network.
By leveraging the connectivity and lock-in RIM has created with this service they could roll out a much more open (but still integrated) service to their devices. This is perhaps not a direction they want to go, but looking at the passionate users of iChat and Adium you can see how Instant Messaging is an important tool for users.
I think that Blackberry should open up this chat service, thus keeping users on their network, and be able to use it through any chat service available. Google is keeping the lines of communication open by enabling text messaging within gchat – which just makes sense from a user standpoint.
By opening up the network and giving users tools they want, Blackberry can keep the content and communication happening on their network and their devices. As other companies develop their own proprietary networks this value diminishes.Adium, Blackberry 8900, google talk, IChat, IPhone