BlackBerry’s popular instant chat service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will start running on rival mobile devices powered by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS software later this week in line with the Canadian smartphone maker’s plans to open up the service to hold on to market share.
BlackBerry said in a media statement on Thursday that “BBM for Android would start rolling out on September 21 and for iPhone customers a day later from September 22” globally, including India. The Canadian smartphone maker’s popular instant chat app is now available only on BlackBerry devices. But come Saturday, it will be available as a free download for Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.x) software. Likewise, BBM for iPhones powered by iOS 6 and iOS 7 software will become available for each market on the App Store schedule on Sunday.
BlackBerry’s decision to throw open its proprietary messaging platform is yet another attempt by the struggling firm to remain relevant and arrest falling market share amid news reports that it may cut 40% of its global workforce soon. A one time pioneer of the global smartphone turf, BlackBerry has lately been trying to survive in a market where rivals like Samsung Electronics and Apple have left it far behind in terms of market share.
BBM’s video and voice calling features will not be immediately available on BBM’s Android and iPhone apps although BlackBerry claims these are “planned for availability in a future version”. But the instant chat service, in its new versions, will continue using the BBM PIN to maintain privacy.
“BBM is a very engaging messaging service that is simple to use and with more than a billion Android, iOS, and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers,” said Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry in the statement.