Although I only have a handful of friends I chat (through Instant Messaging) with on a regular basis, they each have their own “favorite” IM client and refuse to use others.
I’ve tried time and again to “unify” them under a single IM protocol, but in vain.
That’s why I use Multi-Protocol IM clients like Digsby when I’m on a PC.
But ever since getting my BlackBerry Bold, this became a problem for me again.
Now, RIM (Research In Motion, the makers of BlackBerry) does provide serviceable clients for the major IM protocols (GTalk, AIM, Y!, MSN) for free. And there are a number of free clients that provide multi-protocol support, such as Instango and Palringo.
The problem with the former is that having each client running will take up precious device memory. Since the BlackBerry Bold is notoriously short of device memory, this can become a major problem.
The problem with the latter is that… well, while they do support multi-protocol, the support seemed rather flaky from my experiences with them.
Enter BeeJive, formerly known as JiveTalk.
This is also a multi-protocol client, but the beauty of it is that they have a dedicated server sitting in the middle, between my BlackBerry and the actual IM servers. This way, BeeJive provides a more stable experience.
Come to think of it, Instango and Palringo use a similar approach too, but through the Jabber(XMPP) protocol. The BlackBerry connects to their server using the XMPP protocol, which in turns routes the connection to the respective IM servers through XMPP transports.
Maybe it’s just me, but connection through XMPP transports are often fickle. I’ve had connections dropping at random interval, and sometimes the transport just won’t let me log into the IM server.
I don’t know what protocol BeeJive uses, but I suspect that they’ve developed a proprietary one for their use. In any case, it works really well for me.
But BeeJive comes with a caveat, which can be a real biggie for some people.
It’s not free.
You have to dish out US$19.95 for a one-device license, meaning that you have to purchase the license again if you ever lose your phone, or upgrade to a new one.
If you want to be protected against such changes, you’ll need to pay US$29.95.
BeeJive does offer a 30-day free trial, so you have a full month to test it out before deciding whether it’s worth the money.
In my case, the answer was a resounding “yes”.
But BeeJive isn’t all perfect, though; I’ve had it crashing on me with some “unhandled java exception” errors 3 times in a month of usage.
It also locked up my phone once when I tried to use its feature of grabbing a phone number from chat, adding it directly to Contacts.
That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the most stable Multi-Protocol IM available for the BlackBerry at the moment, and that’s enough reason for me to be worth $19.95.