Introducing BlackBerry Messenger 7 With Voice Calls

BlackBerry Messenger 7For months now, hardcore BlackBerry users have been clamoring for Skype on BlackBerry and RIM is yet to offer any word with regards to if the coming messiah (BlackBerry 10) is going to support it or not. Instead RIM has decided to wet our appetites by unleashing a BlackBerry Messenger 7 that supports free wi-fi voice calls.

This new version of BBM (which by the way in beta and only available to beta testers) allows BBM users who find themselves in areas with Wi-Fi connections to easily chat with other BBM users on wi-fi with voice.

Pretty interesting, no?

Well I took it for a test drive with one of my BBM contacts (@Pharmtasy) and after 4 minutes, we both checked how much data had been consumed and our BlackBerry data traffic monitor app rang up 5 whooping MB.

With pay-as-you-go data costing a flat rate of 5kobo per KB in this part of the world coupled with virtually non-existent  free wi-fi hotspots, that amounts to like N250 for a 4 minutes Wi-Fi call. That N250 could actually give you 12 minutes of airtime on the regular network channel.

@harbyhorlar responded to one of my tweets regarding this and stated that on Nimbuzz, he once made a 41 minute Yahoo Messenger call with just 10mb. This leaves me wondering if RIM is going to debut an OS upgrade that would help with voice compression to reduce the data costs especially for those of us that create our own wi-fi hotspots.

One thing seems carved in stone for now. RIM has no plans whatsoever to make this feature available on mobile data plans that is your regular BIS plan. If it did so, most network operators especially the ones in Nigeria would record a massive loss of revenue!

Finally, while they prepare in earnest for the launch of BlackBerry 10 come January 2013, it really wouldn’t hurt for them to switch payment processors and get something similar to what Google Play and iTunes have in place. As it is, RIM and its application developers are losing so much money ’cause of these BlackBerry Appworld credit/debit card Error 12000/11000 issue that plagues most Blackberry users who don’t live in the UK and US.

For now BBM 7 is only available via the BlackBerry Beta Zone. Click here to sign up if you’re interested. Also note that for now it’s only available to BlackBerry OS 6 and 7. Support for OS 5 is in the works.

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