updated 01:24 pm EDT, Tue May 14, 2013
Messaging system for BlackBerry phones will work on other platforms
BlackBerry will be expanding access to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service to new platforms this summer, in a move that has surfaced in rumors a number of times in the past. Users of iOS and Android devices will be able to download a free app for their device in order to use the service, with the core BBM functionality initially available and other aspects expected later in the year.
Normal BBM chats, multi-person chats, voice note sharing, and BlackBerry Groups with message and file sharing between up to 30 members will be available from launch, though BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins speaking at BlackBerry Live claimed "we'll bring voice, screen share, and of course, channels later on."
The launch date will apparently be "subject to approval by Google Play and the Apple App Store," according to a company blog post, with the iOS version compatible with devices running iOS6, and version 4.0 or later for Android.
Since BBM has been an exclusive part of the BlackBerry product range for some time, it is an odd choice for the company to open it up to other smartphone users. Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of software product management and ecosystem at BlackBerry, said "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."
According to the company, there are more than 60 million monthly active users of the service, and more than 51 million people use BBM for an average of 90 minutes per day. Over 10 billion messages are sent each day, claimed to be almost twice that of other messaging platforms, and that almost half of all BBM messages are read by the user within 20 seconds of receiving it in the first place.