Install BlackBerry Messenger 5 At Your Own Risk

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On Wednesday, word was out that the much-anticipated BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 (BBM5) was officially available. Scores of BlackBerry addicts, who hadn't already installed a leaked version of the application, pointed their beloved smartphones to the various outlets where the program could be downloaded.

As the proud owner of a BlackBerry Storm, I've never really had a use for BBM. E-mails and SMS text messages always fulfilled most of my needs and, when instantaneous communication was required, the device actually works as a telephone too! Nevertheless, giving in to the mounting peer pressure from friends, the new version of the program had enough interesting features to warrant taking a look. I figured, as it is, the program is already sitting on my phone anyway, so why not upgrade it to the latest version?

Well, as the saying goes ... famous last words.

First, I tried downloading the program from Research In Motion's App World. While the download was smooth, the application seemed to disappear from the phone altogether during installation. After a battery pull, I tried again, this time with the Storm apparently frozen during the install. I reset again, and attempted to download BBM5 directly from RIM via the phone's Web browser. Everything appeared to have gone well this time, as the program downloaded and installed like others have before it. At the end of the installation, I was prompted to reboot the device, and have regretted doing so ever since.

My phone booted up to a plain white screen depicting nothing more than an icon with the words, "Reinstall Software: 552." For the uninitiated, this message basically means your BlackBerry is kaput or, bricked, so-named because it is now about as functional as a brick.

As I started searching the Internet with hopes of reviving my Storm, I was dismayed to find countless others who had described, verbatim, every step I had taken to arrive at the same error message. Sure, there are plenty of people who are now happily using the new BlackBerry Messenger with no problems, and they most likely account for the majority. Still, there were too many stories like mine that lead me to ask, how could RIM not know there were potential problems with this install?

After a little searching, I did come across the steps needed to restore the phone back to functionality, albeit at the cost of losing everything on it.

Unfortunately, the only remedy for "Reinstall Software: 552" is to do the equivalent of formatting a hard drive and reinstalling the operating system. While I am typically somewhat responsible when it comes to syncing and backing up my BlackBerry, some busy days and long nights have kept me from doing it for a few weeks. For the sake of wanting to experiment with BBM5, I am now destined to spend days, if not weeks, restoring all the contacts and appointments I've entered since my last backup. Additionally, I'll have to locate and reinstall every application I've used.

Needless to say, I am not very happy today. I'm resigned to the work I know I have ahead of me, but can't help think that this was preventable. In the end, I have no one to blame. I've always backed up my device before installing new software, but at version 5, from the manufacturer of the phone, I made assumptions for which I am now paying the price.

For those of you interested in upgrading to BBM5, I won't try to dissuade you. Odds are you will have an uneventful installation and move on. Just beware of the risk you're taking before doing so and, for heaven's sake, back up your phone before beginning.

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