Blackberry Messenger is perhaps among the oldest of instant messaging clients. It is also perhaps been a major selling point for Blackberry devices all over the world. Soon though, the exclusivity is going to go away. Blackberry Messenger is now heading to android and iOS.
At Blackberry’s annual conference -Blackberry live 2013 – Thorsten Heins, the company’s CEO, formally announced that the company will be launching its BlackBerry messaging service on both iOS and Android. Even better – it’ll be available for free.
BBM will be compatible with smartphones running Android 4.0 and above, and iOS devices running iOS 6 and above. Coming this summer, the initial release will have limited features, but will include multi-person chats, photo-sharing, Blackberry Groups and voice notes. A new feature – Blackberry Channels, that was announced at the conference – allows users to share content via BBM or voice/video chat wont make it to the other platforms as of now. However, Android and iOS will get additional functionality in subsequent releases, so BBM on Blackberry might not keep anything unique to itself.
Upon release, current BBM users will be able to add non-Blackberry users to their contacts. Android users will get to add contacts via NFC as well.
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. – Andrew Bocking, executive vice president,Software Product Management.
The decision to go cross-platform is a bit of a surprise, seeing that only last year, Blackberry had denied any such ideas and gone on record to say BBM would remain exclusive to its devices. The decision may also be a bit of a gamble – with the service’s immense popularity among its users, going cross platform to reach to a broader audience would be the logical thing to do. But this could also lead to a further fall in market share for Blackberry devices. With BBM on Android, many users will no longer be reluctant to switch to the more popular platform.
Currently, Apple has its own iOS-exclusive instant messaging app – iMessage, for communication between iOS devices. Whatsapp however, a cross platform messaging app available on all smartphones, remains one of the most popular apps out there. With the popularity BBM carries with itself, expect some competition.
Blackberry Messenger currently has 60 million active users, according to the company. A stunning 51 million of those users are said to be using the messenger for about 90 minutes daily, with the service processing more than 10 billion messages each day.