21 September 2013
BlackBerry to release BBM across Android and iOS this weekend
Canadian technology company BlackBerry is to release its instant messaging service BBM across Android and iOS this weekend.
As it tries to move out of a sustained difficult period, news about the firms’ performance eclipses its pending OS releases.
Opening up BBM comes as the phone and tablet maker announces it is to shed 4,500 jobs or 40% of its global workforce before 2014 and projects a loss of nearly 1$ billion (USD) when it reports earnings from the second-quarter next week. Once a dominant corporate phone maker that soon found favour with a younger audience, it quickly lost marketshare and its cool.
It signals more for turbulent times for BlackBerry, that dropped its original company name Research in Motion (RIM) to BlackBerry as it sought to strengthen the brand and even take less heat from unfavourable reporting as the device of choice for rioters. More challenging times it faces and loosing more share to other handset makers has seen the once dominant device maker seek a buyer. Witnessing how the value of patents and intellectual property is to technology firms, with Microsoft recently acquiring Nokia's devices, services business in addition to licensing Nokia's patents and mapping services, should provide BlackBerry with hope of survival in some form.
BlackBerry announced earlier in the year it was opening up its messaging services and would include brand led content, an approach other-the-top services (OTT) don’t normally take. BBM will be available for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (from Saturday, 7AM EDT), while iPhones running iOS 6 or iOS 7 (from Sunday, available for each market on the App Store schedule from 12:01 AM local time) will also be able to download it. For the new operating systems, BBM will bring profile management, chat, group chat, content sharing with video reported to be arriving later. BBM doesn’t share mobile number email address; instead BBM users have unique PINs, which can be given to new or casual contacts.
In a recent press release, Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry explained why the firm was opening BBM to other operating systems, “BBM is a very engaging messaging service that is simple to use, easy to personalize and has an immediacy that is necessary for mobile communications. With more than a billion Android, iOS, and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile instant messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers.”
BlackBerry refers to BBM as private social network for active, real conversations and stating it has more than 60 million customers on BlackBerry alone. Although the move is bold, it's long overdue and it could be far too little, too late. Other messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp (reporting 300 million users in August), new arrival Just.me have in fact been more successful and contrary to what Bocking claims, appear to be more dominant.
However, BlackBerry’s Donny Halliwell writes that interaction is greater, “BBM is used for 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. Messages on BBM are typically read within seconds, reflecting how truly engaged BBM customers are.”
Even with the sticky doom and gloom now attaching itself to the brand, BlackBerry has laid bare plans for its messaging service, endeavouring to develop it with marketing and brand development in mind in line with what was reported earlier in the year. “BBM Channels will provide a forum for active, real conversations between you and the people, brands, celebrities, artists, service providers, communities and more, that matter to you. By creating a Channel, individuals and brands can engage their friends and communities in conversations sparked by their thoughts, ideas and passions. Subscribing to a Channel will let you join conversations with people who share your interests. In addition, BBM Video calling and BBM Voice calling are planned for availability for Android and iPhone in a future version,” writes Hailiwell.
How BBM performs in a competitive messaging marketplace remains to be seen. With units, earnings and share price all falling; it very well may be the few of many things that may remain from the iconic technology brand, if it cannot steer clear of failures.
For more information, or to download BBM for Android or iPhone, visit BlackBerry and getting know BBM at its site for what to expect.
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