Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion, is partly unbinding its proprietary Blackberry Messenger to enable Android and iOS users run the app on their devices. Starting this summer, the Canadian phone maker will start rolling out BBM to mobile devices running Google’s and Apple’s native operating systems.
“It’s time to bring BBM to a greater audience, no matter what mobile device they carry,” Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins told the annual BlackBerry live conference in Orlando, in hopes the move could spur higher usage and sales of BB devices.
The app, which allows Blackberry users to send text messages and make calls to the same platform for free, claims more than 10 billion messages transmitted daily to over 60 million users across the world. With the introduction of the cross-platform version, BBM is all set to expand its user base and increase interoperability in other devices.
That is understandable. Earlier this year, Blackberry reported that 3 million of its users have absconded the service, dropping the total number of users to 76 million with 36 percent decline in sales year-over-year.
The extended version will be compatible with iOS6 and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, which will require approval from the Apple App Store and Google Play. The BBM for iOS and Android would allow users to use BBM chats, including multi-person conversation, photo and voice notes transmission, and BBM Groups interactions that can accommodate up to 30 users. Blackberry plans to take voice calls on board in the next few months, according to Heins.
Although Heins recognizes the possibility that merely a popular app such as BBM is not enough to attract a huge number of new users, the Blackberry executive is upbeat the move could somehow uplift its quarterly figures, win back market share and lead to new business opportunities.
“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,” said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President, Software Product Management and Ecosystem, at BlackBerry. “We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.”
BBM is perhaps the most well-liked built-in feature of Blackberry handsets because of its free transmissions to other Blackberry platforms, which is especially conducive to users in countries that have costly rates for such services. In addition, the app has high levels of security and encryption that implements PIN codes to enable secure communication.