On one hand, this is huge news for BlackBerry. But on the other, it would've been far, far more monumental if this had happened five years ago. During BlackBerry's annual developer event in Florida today, the company announced that BBM (its proprietary messaging service, similar to iMessage for Apple devices) would finally be available outside of the BlackBerry family. This summer, BBM will be available
for Android and iOS, allowing BlackBerry users to now message their friends who refuse to switch platforms.
Initially, the BBM App will support iOS 6 and Android 4.0+. Upon release, BBM
customers would be able to broaden their connections to include friends, family and colleagues on other mobile platforms. In the planned initial release, iOS and Android users would be able to experience the immediacy of BBM chats, including multi-person chats, as well as 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. iOS and Android users would be able to add their contacts through PIN, email, SMS or QR code scan, regardless of platform. Android users would also be able to connect using a compatible NFC-capable device.
BBM has more than 60 million monthly active customers, with more than 51 million people using BBM an average of 90 minutes per day. BBM customers collectively send and receive more than 10 billion messages each day, nearly twice as many messages per user per day as compared to other mobile messaging apps. All that said, BlackBerry has no doubt lost users in recent years as BBM users realized that contacts they once had were now off of BBM and onto a rival platform. Creating this bridge years ago could've saved a ton of market share erosion
. As it stands, one has to wonder how much impact this app will have so late in the game.
Still, it's a watershed moment for proprietary messaging systems. Just imagine the hype that would surround Apple if it released an iMessage app for Android
, Windows Phone and BlackBerry
. Here's hoping such a thing now isn't so far-fetched.