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BlackBerry claims no spam, attacks Apple's iMessage service

updated 02:26 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2014

Poorly messaged article omits features of iMessage to bolster BB10

BlackBerry has attacked iMessage in a blog post, as it attempts to try and convert more users to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). The post, written by head of product and brand marketing for BBM Jeff Gadway, latches on to recent reports about spam messages on iMessage, and lists off ways the service allegedly beats Apple's messaging platform.

The first of five points claims the service is "architected in a way that protects our 85 million users against spammers." While iMessage uses the phone number or Apple ID, allowing anyone to send messages, BBM requires both parties to add each other as contacts before messages can be sent or received. Point two seemingly reiterates the same contacts-only message as the first, under the guise of "BBM gives you control," claiming "there's no spam on BBM due to its self-policing system." Not detailed is how this "self-policing" actually works, as Electronista staffers can confirm that they have seen message-based spam on BB10-powered devices. Additionally, agencies like the Canadian Government consider the PIN-based system insecure.

Item three on the list relies on BlackBerry's security credentials. While at first Gadway mentions the approved contacts system, he then goes on to talk about the enterprise messaging service BBM Protected, a scheme it outlined in June which added FIPS 140-2 encryption between corporate contacts. Gadway then goes on to claim this "ensures your messages aren't vulnerable to spying or hacking while being transmitted." Not mentioned are Apple's denials of being involved in the monitoring system that the NSA is reported to have, nor is Apple's encryption and non-retention of iMessages sent between users acknowledged at all. BlackBerry has made the same denials of being involved in the NSA program that Apple has.

Point four is seemingly a rehash of the first item on the list, stating "BBM empowers you to protect yourself from unsolicited messages." The post suggests that the user can block spam messages from contacts by removing them from the contact list, effectively preventing future messages from coming through. This assumes that the user and system operator, in the case of BBM corporate management has configured the managed system properly, a fact not mentioned in the blog post.

The last item on the list manages to mix together a security feature with a jab to cross-platform functionality. BBM uses a unique PIN for each member, independent of the device used and separate from phone numbers and not linked to other messaging platforms. Gadway also boasts about BBM being a "true multi-platform network" for BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android devices. "That's virtually 100 percent of all smartphones and tablets out there today. While iMessage itself is only available on Apple products, the protocol and system can process AIM-based messages as well. Furthermore, the penetration of BBM in the messaging market is abysmal, while AIM and iMessage combined can reach the same 100 percent of smartphones and tablets BlackBerry claims to service.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Not to flog a dying horse, but it should be pointed out that in the original report on this "iMessage spam" thing, we noted that Apple has already taken countermeasures to reduce the possibility of spam, and that we haven't seen any reports of a serious issue with iMessage spam, though we have ourselves seen some (rare) examples. The original source exaggerated the scope of the issue, in our opinion.

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-14-05

    It's so bad over on the Blackberry camp that even the spammers are not bothering...

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Yeah. With less than 1% users in the whole planet, I am pretty sure there are zero spammers (0.01%).

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