Within a few weeks’ time, BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, will be available on all the latest Android devices and the iPhone, the Canadian company announced.
In the planned initial release, Android and iOS users would be able to experience the immediacy of BBM chats, including multi-person chats, as well as the ability to share photos and voice notes, and engage in BBM Groups.
The company is abandoning the platform’s exclusivity that had for years been a crucial tool in attracting and retaining users. But the free apps will be available once approved for Apple’s iOS 6 software released last year and devices running Android 4.0 or higher. The Waterloo-based company has been very active during this year as it first launched new devices with its new operating system — the Z10 and Q10.
BlackBerry’s latest move to make the messaging app available on rival platforms will lead to a clash with WhatsApp, Viber and other messaging apps.
Blackberry finally realised that BBM wasn’t the killer app that it used to be 18 months ago so instead of restricting themselves, moving the app across platforms at least ensures BlackBerry as a company and a brand that stays relevant in the minds of consumers, according to a senior industry expert.
“We’ve already seen WhatsApp take a large market share in the messaging space across the region primarily because of their cross platform functionality,” Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky’s Electronics, told Khaleej Times.
By increasing the base of BBM customers by leveraging on the popularity of other operating systems, Blackberry ensures they can focus on one of their inherent strengths, which has been their software and services business, he added.
“The time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service. BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community,” said Andrew Bocking, executive vice-president for Software Product Management and Ecosystem at BlackBerry.