My Submission for The BBM Apps Hackathon

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

In short, “‘BBM Been There” is a unique take on a “Places Visited” type of feature for a social network. It utilizes the GPS coordinates of the BlackBerry® to “collect” hot-spots, rate location, and improve “Been There” rankings. Hot spots are locations that people may want to visit (and collect) when travelling. A person’s ranking will be dependent on the individual rankings of the places that person “collected” with the BB. The BBM network will allow friends to see what locations a user visited, how a user rated the location, what the user said about these location, and the user’s overall travel ranking. This type of network interaction will foster a fun competition among friends in the BBM network. See Figure 1 for an example of how the ‘Been There app will fit into the BBM profile (the addition of the ‘Been There line will be visible by the user’s BBM contacts).

Been There Profile Comp

Figure 1

BBM ‘Been There App

  • Collects visited “hot spots” via GPS
    • A hot spot is a location that a traveler may want to “collect” with their BlackBerry®. That is, the user may want to note that she or he visited that location or area, and share that information with friends. For example, when travelling to the Eifel tower, I would like to share that experience with my friends. The BBM ‘Been There app allows BlackBerry® users to do just that. (See Figure 2 for a composite of what a user’s ‘Been There page might look like on the BlackBerry® and Figure 3 for a composite of what a Hot-Spot Location page might look like)
  • Collected places that aren’t hot-spots.
    • User names the location, and can give it a personal rating.
    • If enough BBM users collect (or suggest) a location, it will be added as a hot-spot and the user’s data will be updated accordingly (Increase in ranking, increase in the number of “hot-spots” visited)
  • Take a picture at visited place
    • Picture can be easily accessible from the location’s page and the user may choose to share this picture with their BBM friends.
  • Make a note about your visit to the location
    • See the Figure 3 comp for how location notes may be incorporated into the location page.
    • A message can be private (just for the user), BBM Network (just share with BBM friends), or public (message can be seen by anyone visiting the location’s page).
  • Rate the visited location
    • See Figure 3 of how this may be incorporated into the location’s page.
    • [Note: this data will be used by the internal algorithm when ranking hot-spots and whether to add a new location as a hot-spot]
  • Shows you who visited this place from your BBM network
  • View all the places you (or your friend) have visited
    • Order location list by Ranking or by Date. See Figure 2 for what a location’s visited list might look like (Note: each location is a button that will take you to the page of that location)
  • See who out of your network of BBM friends has the highest rating, has the most collected “hot spots” etc.
Been There User Profile Page

Figure 2

Been There Location Comp

Figure 3

‘Been There and the BBM Network

The BBM aspect of “‘Been There” is most crucial to the success:

  • The regular BBM profile will include a ‘Been There line (See Figure 1) that links to the ‘Been There user’s page (See Figure 2).
    • As shown by figure 1, the line shows: # of hot-spots collected, total number of locations collected, and the user’s ‘Been There ranking.
    • This line will be visible and active for anyone in the BBM network contact list.

Other Possible Features of ‘Been There

  • “Undiscovered Hot-Spots” – Locations that no user has collected yet. No public information about hot-spot area. Equivalent to a world-wide egg-hunt.
  • Web Portal of ‘Been There – Can log on using a browser to view additional information, options, promo’s.


  • Unique, fun social network aspect specific to the BlackBerry® cell phone users
  • Combines the social network aspect with physical interaction (physical location)
  • Encourages travel and healthy\fun competition among friends
  • A unique\free\fun way to collect travel e-memorabilia
  • Easy to use – just press, “Collect Location via GPS.”
  • Hard to cheat your ranking and “collected” locations
  • Value added for tourist destinations –> Potential as an extra revenue stream (Advertising, Promotions, Partnership etc)
  • Potential for data mining –> Tourist information, “Hot Spot” ranking (extra revenue stream)

Potential Drawback\Obstacle

Main drawback: some travelers might not want to use their cell phone outside their cell-phone network because of expensive roaming charges.

Overcoming this obstacle: first, charges and fees are steadily declining, which may not make this an issue in the future. Second, for thrifty users, the app can collect the GPS information (generally free) and then process it upon entry to the customer’s cell phone network.  The app will warn the user anytime any roaming charges might be potentially applied, and give the option to process GPS data later.

About Me

I am a web developer currently working with ASP.NET (C#) and Flash, but with previous experience in Java EE. I’m just starting to build applications for mobile devices, and this would be my first mobile app. While I know that the API in the BlackBerry® Java SDK will take some getting used to, my development experience will compliment and transfer well to allow me to adapt quickly. In fact, my Java EE and/or ASP.NET programming experience will aid me to build the back-end (server-side) of my ‘Been There app. All the “hot-spot” data, the ranking algorithm, and certain processes will be done on a central ‘Been There server.

While I have not launched any applications independently, I learned a great deal from my work experience: the importance of a robust and thorough QA process, the proper separation of concern, the benefits of MVVM (and MVC) programming, and what makes a great user experience.

Here’s why you should pick me:

  • I am very professional, and I learn new technologies and APIs quickly
  • I am strong supporter of RIM and its founders (and very proud that they are Canadian).
  • Above all, I have a great idea!

My Feelings About RIM and BBM

First, I think that RIM has a unique niche in the market that will continue to expand and grow. The problems they currently face are temporary as the company tries to re-balance their security benefits with openness to independent developers. Once overcoming this hurdle, the BlackBerry® will regain its position in the market-no other phone has the security and professional appeal of the BB.

What I love most about BBM specifically is that it’s a verified network of friends. You know that the person you are talking to is real. This is something that facebook cannot accomplish-just look at all the fake profiles in that realm. More than that, the person in you BBM network is probably a close friend or associate, which means that your network doesn’t get bloated with people who aren’t really close to you. Your BBM network is your inner circle of friends while facebook is your whole high-school (to use an analogy). This is a unique advantage in the social network market that hasn’t been fully leveraged yet.

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