NEW DELHI: Blackberry has come up with a mixed approach this time. BlackBerry on Tuesday announced that BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), one of the most-used features on the company’s phones, would be available on Android devices and iPhones in the coming months. The BBM app for iPhones and Android devices will be available for free.
“It’s time to bring BBM to a greater audience no matter what mobile device they carry,” said BB CEO Thorsten Heins.
BBM is the one of the key features that helped make BlackBerry phones popular. But unfortunately it has lost much of its charm in the recent years due to its lack of support for iPhones and Androids. Instead, services like WhatsApp and Viber that run on almost all available smartphone platforms have become more popular.
In the planned initial release, iOS and Android users would be able to use BBM chats, including multi-person chats, as well as have the ability to share photos and voice notes, and engage in BBM Groups, which allows BBM customers to create groups of up to 30 people.
On Android, BBM will be available on all devices running Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich or newer version of the OS.
Interestingly, BlackBerry has not yet announced any plan to bring the app to Windows Phone or Symbian phones even though some other popular IM apps like WhatsApp support these platforms.
“For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and 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, software product management and ecosystem, at BlackBerry.
BlackBerry hopes that by making BBM available on Android devices and iPhones it will be able to draw more users to the service. Once a rage among BlackBerry users, BBM is nowadays mostly used business users as they perceive it to be more secure compared to other instant messaging services.
BBM has over 60 million active users. BlackBerry claims that of these 60 million users, almost 51 million people use the service daily.
On Tuesday, BlackBerry also announced BBM Channels, a new social engagement platform within BBM that will allow customers to connect with the businesses, brands, celebrities and groups. BlackBerry plans to add support for BBM Channels as well as voice and video chatting for iOS and Android later this year.
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