Lets face it, in Nigeria only two messaging platforms are worth considering – Blackberry’s BBM and Whatsapp. And of these two, Whatsapp is probably more widespread though not necessarily more actively used.
The reason for this is very simple.
Apart from the fact that Whatsapp is cross platform, subscribing to this messaging service and acquiring a bunch of chat buddies is usually a breeze and very much less restrictive. Once a user subscribes to Whatsapp, the platform automatically grants the subscriber unrestrictive access to other Whatsapp users in his mobile phone contact. On this platform, your mobile phone number is your unique identifier.
On the other hand, Blackberry’s BBM requires the exchange of alphanumeric PINs for two subscribers to open an unrestricted communication channel between themselves. Your BBM contacts are very separate from your mobile phone contacts.
Whether Blackberry would continue with the BBM PIN model in its cross platform implementation (Android & iOS) come summer 2013 is yet to be confirmed. However, for those that are very conscious of releasing their personal details online, it is very obvious that Whatsapp is a more intrusive messaging system and throws up a lot of privacy concerns because of the need for you to release your mobile number, sometimes to strangers. BBM might just be the best messaging platform to adopt.
Nigeria has a notorious Blackberry cult followership and even those not using Blackberry phones still have a soft spot for this messaging platform. While BBM usage in Nigeria may not necessarily be a reflection of global usage rate, it is expected that millions would jump on board. And for a country with over 170 million residents, coupled with other new users from developing countries in the Asia where Blackberry has its strength, it is only a matter of time for the present 61 million BBM users to surpass the 200 million strong users on Whatsapp platform.