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How BlackBerry Messenger Works

Alternative Messaging Options for BlackBerry Devices
­BlackBerry users can access other instant messaging programs such as Yahoo Messenger.
­BlackBerry users can access other instant messaging programs such as Yahoo Messenger.
© Ethan Miller/Getty Images

BlackBerry Messenger has you in touch with your BlackBerry-using friends and colleagues, but what about everyone else? You can use other options to IM with them from your BlackBerry. One option is to pick one of the major instant messaging services that provides an application for the Blackberry -- and most of them do. Among these are:

  • Yahoo Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • AOL Instant Messenger
  • ICQ for BlackBerry
  • IBM Lotus Sametime
  • Novell GroupWise Messenger

Each application offers different functions. The advantage is that you can extend an IM service that you already use to your BlackBerry, adding mobile availability and possibly accessing your contact list for that service. To use any of these, you'll need to download the application directly to your BlackBerry -- or to your computer and then install it on your BlackBerry. And you need to check whether the service you want is available through your wireless provider.

The disadvantage of these is that you can only chat with others who use that service. To solve that problem, you can go to a service that offers messaging for multiple providers simultaneously. JiveTalk, EQO and WebMessenger are three that offer BlackBerry service. But they're not all free.

JiveTalk isn't free, but it provides connections to AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber and MySpace IM. A non-transferable license for one BlackBerry device costs $19.95 and includes free software upgrades. But switch to a new BlackBerry, and you'll need to get another license. A $29.95 user license can be transferred to a new device.

EQO offers free IMing with connections to MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, QQ, ICQ and Jabber. The company also offers -- and charges for -- text messaging and VoIP calling.

WebMessenger is a hosted service that can be used to access AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ and Jabber networks from a BlackBerry or other mobile device. While the company offers a monthly or yearly subscription service, WebMessenger Business-Class Service is free.

More instant messaging options are becoming available for the BlackBerry as technology evolves and IMing becomes a more widely used business tool. For the latest offerings, be sure to check the BlackBerry Web site.

For lots more information on BlackBerry Messenger and related topics, see the helpful links on the next page.