Will BlackBerry 10 signal the end of unlimited BBM plans?

Prior to BlackBerry 10 we saw a lot of carriers offer their customers unlimited BBM plans.  These were especially popular in emerging markets like South Africa, where BlackBerry dominates approximately 50% of the market.  With the addition of features like BBM Video calls and BBM Voice, BlackBerry users will be putting much more demand on their carriers networks in the future.

South African carriers Vodacom and MTN have already stated that they will be discontinuing their unlimited BBM plans as of May 31st of this year.  That is a mere 3 months after the launch of the BlackBerry Z10 in South Africa, and there have been some angry responses to the carriers decisions to limit what will be covered under the unlimited BBM plans.

The unlimited internet access that has been a popular part of BlackBerry package deals in emerging markets has fostered heavy data volume growth. It is now being phased out by South African carriers. Things like BBM Voice and BBM Screen Sharing are completely excluded from Vodacom’s Unlimited BBM offer and file-sharing is capped.

It will be interesting to see if this move away from unlimited plans has an adverse affect on the popularity of BlackBerry 10 in these emerging markets.  We have seen carriers in other parts of the world, like Rogers in Canada, offer up temporary unlimited BBM Video call promotions to entice customers to sign up for a BlackBerry Z10.

We will have to wait and see if customers in these merging markets continue to migrate towards BlackBerry 10 devices  and whether or not we see any issues in the US when BlackBerry 10 devices finally launch in America.