Instant Messaging FAQ

What Instant Messaging Software Is Available For BlackBerry?

How Do I Configure My BlackBerry To Work With Instant Messaging Software?

If you do not know what BES is, please see the BlackBerry Glossary. Formerly, most IM clients required BES on BlackBerry. However, this is becoming less and less necessary. To maximize the ability to run IM software on a BlackBerry, do the following steps, depending on the carrier you use:


You’re in luck. These are easiest to set up Instant Messaging on. It is recommended to upgrade to BlackBerryOS 4.0 to maximize compatibility with IM software. Then download the regular version (BES) of the IM software even if you are not using BES.


1. Upgrade to BlackBerryOS 4.0

2. Configure Internet Access on your BlackBerry

There are frequently problems on the T-Mobile and Cingular networks, which can be resolved with complex configuration and/or using a non-BES version of the IM software. However, there can still be reliability issues. If you are not using BES/MDS, and keep getting lots of disconnects, you may wish to obtain Hosted BES/MDS for about $10-$25 per month. This will vastly improve the reliability of the IM software.

CDMA/Verizon/Sprint/Bell Mobility

You need BlackBerryOS or later to get a TCP/IP stack on CDMA BlackBerries. The good news is that Verichat and WebMessenger is reported to work fine on the BlackBerry 7250 out-of-the-box. However, 7750 users may need to get BES/MDS in order to run IM software. For the best performance of running IM software on CDMA networks, you may wish to obtain Hosted BES/MDS for about $10-$25 per month. This will allow you to run the IM software reliably.

Why Not To Use Instant Messaging On BlackBerry 7100 Series?

It is perfectly adequate for light usage. If you are not a heavy IM user, then this client works very well. However there are disadvantages to the Instant Messenger built into the 7100 Series: It is slow. Messages are delayed by a few seconds, sometimes worse. You cannot hit Enter to transmit messages. You cannot be logged onto multiple chat networks at the same time. You cannot conduct multiple chat conversations simultaneously as easily It cannot run in the background reliably in a 24/7 always-on mode. Alerting is not as configurable as the best BlackBerry IM clients.

Heavy IM users prefer a full-fledged client, such as Verichat or WebMessenger for BlackBerry, which overcomes many of these problems.

What Is Instant Messaging?

If you don’t know what instant messaging is, then you are probably not interested in using instant messaging on BlackBerry. However, this FAQ will explain instant messaging anyway for completeness.

Instant Messaging (IM) is a form of Internet chat. It is called “IM” for short. Essentially, IM is a text version of a telephone call that is more real time than email or SMS. An IM conversation typically looks like the following:Quote:

 Mark: Hello!
 Smith: hey back
 Mark: Did you hear from Sherrie?
 Smith: Not yet - trying to reach her by phone, no answer
 Mark: When you reach her, tell her about the dinner at dad's
 Mark: And say hi to her for me!
 Smith: Definitely will! Do you want me to bring the cookies we just baked?
 Mark: Yep
 Smith: Great. They're REALLY delicious
 Smith: You'll love them!
 Mark: Look forward to it! I'll ping you back at 4pm.

There are several different instant messaging networks:

MSN — Microsoft MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger

AIM — AOL Instant Messenger

ICQ — ICQ Instant Messaging Service

Y! — Yahoo! Messenger

G Talk — Google Talk Messenger
Most installations of Windows XP usually include an application called “Windows Messenger”, which connects to the MSN Messenger network. This program can easily be used as a trial, to see if you like instant messaging.

IM is only a niche market for business. It is a much bigger among consumers/prosumers, especially young people, and non-corporate chat users, as well as among deaf people including Mark Rejhon, the writer of this FAQ. BlackBerry, however, is becoming more and more popular by non-business users, and therefore IM software is becoming more popular than it used to be.

IM includes a contact list called a “Buddy List”. Usually, only people who are inside your Buddy List are authorized to contact you. That allows you to prevent strangers from even attempting to reach you by IM, and it is also very easy to block someone from reaching you by IM, simply by removing their name from your Buddy list, or using a blocking feature.

Why Use Instant Messaging?

Extra communications choice for your BlackBerry. Some people check their email faster — Use your BlackBerry email. Some people prefer phone — Call them via your BlackBerry phone Some people prefer IM chat — Ping them via VeriChat or WebMessenger

This can be true, especially if you know people who tend to hang out all the time on at least one of the IM networks. There are many times it can be more discreet than a phone call, and internationally. It can actually be cheaper to chat via IM, than making a roaming phone call.

IM is good for real time chatting. It is typically treated as a text equivalent of a telephone call. Email is almost fast enough to be real time, but you can’t read and write at the same time — while you can with IM! You can read incoming messages scrolling in simultaneously while you’re writing a reply in IM. At the beginning of 2004, there was only 2 chat programs available for BlackBerry. By the end of 2004, there was over 15 chat programs available, including several instant messenger software programs!

What Are The Advantages Of Instant Messaging?

There are some advantages of IM:

  • Realtime conversation.
  • Split screen chat.
  • Read & Write simultaneously.
  • Color coded text: Red versus Blue.
  • Chat to more than 1 person at the same time.
  • Some IM software supports multiple people in the same “chat room”.
  • Can be a substitute for telephone conversations, if phone is turned off.
  • Sometimes, some people prefer IM over phone or email — especially younger people, deaf and hearing impaired persons, etc.

Advantages of Using Instant Messaging Over SMS

Some people have asked what are the advantages of using a dedicated instant messaging client instead of using plain old SMS. Most BlackBerry IM clients such as VeriChat and WebMessenger use data instead of SMS text messages.

  • Some BlackBerry plans have unlimited data, but not unlimited SMS
  • True 2-way chat, you can type while they are messaging you;
  • Chat faster, quicker messaging, messages arrive in just 1-2 seconds;
  • Multitask multiple conversations more easily;
  • Group conversations are possible in some IM software;
  • Just hit Enter to send message, and you’re immediately ready to type the next message;
  • You can easily chat to someone sitting at a computer too, not just another phone;
  • Cheaper than a long distance call;</li></ul>

Disadvantages of Using IM Instead Of SMS:

  • Cost of software such as annual subscription fee, although this may be still be cheaper than the cost of an “Unlimited” SMS add-on.
  • Not good if you do not have an unlimited data plan;
  • Overkill, if you only do very infrequent SMS or IM;
  • Other people need to run IM software too, or log onto an IM system over SMS. (People can log onto AIM using SMS, so you that SMS users can send messages to your IM client that way!)

I Don’t Have Instant Messaging Accounts. How Do I Sign Up?

Here are the signup links for each Instant Messaging Network. All are free:

MSN: MSN Messenger

AIM: AOL Instant Messenger

ICQ: ICQ Instant Messaging Service

Y!: Yahoo Messenger

Some of the IM software programs support all networks simultaneously. If you have never used instant messaging, you do not need to sign up for all the networks. The most popular networks are MSN and AIM respectively. If you wished, you could just use MSN, just because it is included with Windows XP.

Also, did you know that if you have a Hotmail account, you can just use your Hotmail username and password to logon to the MSN Messenger system? So that means you’ve already got an account on MSN if you are a Hotmail user!

Verichat and Webmessenger do not require you to have accounts on all systems. Just keep the username and password blank for the IM networks that you do not use, and disable the login checkbox for those IM accounts. You can just use 1 or 2 accounts, rather than all 4 networks, if you wish.

Too Many People Contacting Me! What Do I Do Now?

This can sometimes happen if you imported your whole massive desktop buddy list into your BlackBerry.

To solve this problem, the easiest solution is to simply signup for separate IM accounts for your BlackBerry, separate from your desktop. That way, you can only add only the most important contacts (“buddies”) to your IM buddy lists. That means people who you don’t want contacting you on your BlackBerry, won’t be able to ring you on your BlackBerry via IM.

The author of this FAQ, Mark Rejhon, uses this method. He keeps eight separate IM accounts — two each on all four networks, four for desktop use and four for BlackBerry use. He keeps a subset of only the most important IM contacts on the BlackBerry.

      • This is a “Mark Rejhon BlackBerry FAQ” article. Copyright (C) 2005 by Mark Rejhon, All Rights Reserved. Some portions may be Copyright (C) by respective forum members.
      • Mark Rejhon grants permission to use this article only for private use. For all other uses, please ask Mark Rejhon at Mark Rejhon – aka Marky – Home Page of Mark D. Rejhon to ask for permission to use this article. If any content of this article also contains content by other forum members, please ask them for permission too as well. This includes commercial use, public use, reposting in full/part anywhere on the Internet, publication in magazine/book or any other media, or any other use than private use. This copyright notice may not be edited or removed in any manner. Mark Rejhon reserves exclusive right to edit, remove, or restore this article, and this article may not be edited, removed, or restored by any other individual or organizations.

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