BBM App Heading to iOS and AndroidDale Wright
In a shock announcement, BlackBerry has announced it will open up BlackBerry Messenger to users of rival mobile operating systems.
BlackBerry Messenger, more commonly known as BBM, was widely acknowledged as being responsible for the BlackBerry’s huge popularity with teenagers. However, as BlackBerry phones have become less common, many BBM users have found alternative apps for messaging, such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger or Viber.
The BBM platform still handles a staggering 10 billion messages daily, but compared to newer rivals, it’s now a minority messaging tool. BlackBerry needs more users to keep it relevant. It’s a surprise to hear BlackBerry open up one of its key app assets to third party operating systems, but it will give the company a significant advantage over Apple and its own iMessage system, which is iOS-only.
On Android and iOS, users will be able to add a new contact to the BBM app using a BBM PIN (a unique string of letters and numbers), an SMS message, NFC (Android only), a QR code or the user’s email address. Contacts will be able to chat in groups, as they can on BlackBerry handsets.
In terms of new features, BlackBerry has already added Channels, a new layer in BBM that allows celebrities to broadcast promotional messages, similar to tweets. Later this year, BBM users will be able to show other users their screen, make calls and send video, all for free.
The exciting news about BBM was revealed at the end of BlackBerry’s developer event in Orlando. As expected, the company also launched a new handset, the Q5, a QWERTY phone which is expected to follow in the footsteps of the BlackBerry Curve when it’s launched. No pricing has been announced, but with its colourful design and slightly less powerful hardware, it’s expected to be the budget version of the Q10.