BlackBerry’s exclusive messaging service will no longer be exclusive.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins announced at BlackBerry Live in Orlando today that the company will be making its extremely popular BlackBerry Messenger service multi-platform. BBM should be available as a free app for iOS devices running version 6.0 and Android devices running 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later, sometime this summer. However, the app is still subject to approval by Google Play and the Apple App Store, so there are no guarantees the service will be available by summer, or at all.
It seems a little strange BlackBerry would make its most popular feature available to users of other devices, but Heins calls the move “a statement of confidence” and said the future of the BlackBerry 10 OS is “so strong that we are confident that BBM can become an independent messaging solution.”
Eventually, BBM for iOS and Android will include all the features available to BlackBerry users, but to kick things off the iOS and Android platforms will include multi-person chats, voice note sharing and BlackBerry Groups.
The company also hopes to add iOS and Android support for voice and video chatting and the newly introduced BlackBerry Channels by the end of the year. BlackBerry Channels is a feature that allows users to subscribe to the channels of their favorite business, groups and celebrities to view content they provide on the BBM platform. From first glance, the channels seem to be similar to following a business or celebrity on Twitter.