BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will finally cross the OS divide this year, BlackBerry has confirmed, bringing the instant messaging service to the iPhone and Android handsets for the first time.
Speaking at yesterday’s BlackBerry press call-cum-devs’-pow-wow, software veep Andrew Bocking confirmed that BBM will hit competitors’ smartphone platforms this summer and will be available as a free download.
The app will run all iDevices running the current generation of Apple’s software, iOS 6. Android phone owners who want to get on board will need a handset powered by the 4.0 version (Ice Cream Sandwich) of the operating system or above.
Bocking said: “The time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service.
“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. We're excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community."
BBM, which is especially popular with a youthful cost-conscious market, enables users to send instant messages for no charge, since this is included as part of their mobile data plan. In so doing, it also eliminates the need to pay for a generous text message/SMS allowance.
Until now, BBM’s exclusivity to BlackBerry phones was a key selling point for their handsets and a notable differentiator.
However, since then BBM’s once-market leading user base has been superseded by cross-platform instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, which now boasts 200 million regular users.
BlackBerry’s conference was also marked by the unveiling of the BlackBerry Q5. Informally dubbed as a BlackBerry Curve for 2013, the handset is the first mid-range BlackBerry phone to run the Canadian company’s BlackBerry 10 operating system.