BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the flagship program for the Waterloo-based company, is moving to iPhone and Android. • file photo

BBM expanding to competitors

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the flagship program for the Waterloo-based company, is moving to iPhone and Android.   •  file photo
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the flagship program for the Waterloo-based company, is moving to iPhone and Android. • file photo

Justin Smirlies

Blackberry — the company previously known as Research in Motion — will be releasing their mobile messaging software, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), later this summer for other smartphone operating systems, they announced at their annual convention in May.

This decision comes just months after the Waterloo-based company and product manufacturer released their new set of smartphones, the Z10 and the Q10. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins made the announcement at the BlackBerry Live event in Orlando following other announcements including the expected release of a cheaper smartphone, the Q5, and a potential tablet.

“When you look at BBM, this is a very active, engaged community [with] 60 million active users sending and receiving over 10 billion messages a day, half of which are read within 20 seconds,” explained Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of software product management and ecosystem at BlackBerry.

“We have a very active base there. Our users themselves, through all the research that we’ve done over the years, have been asking for this. They have been asking for the ability to connect with all of their friends regardless of what mobile device they’re using.”

BBM has been one of the flagship features of the BlackBerry brand since the late 2000s. Since then, however, it has faced considerable competition from Apple and Samsung.

Bocking noted that this was the “right time” to expand BBM to different operating systems.

“The simple way to put it is, BBM is a great experience and by having that available now to a wider set of smartphone users in the world, it will give everyone a taste of BlackBerry and what you get with the overall BlackBerry experience,” continued Bocking. He noted that BBM on Apple and Android phones will have similar features.

But Bocking asserted that BlackBerry isn’t abandoning the focus on their smartphones. They hope that with BBM they could lure people into making the move to a Z10 or a Q10.

“No other smartphone [operating system] out there has the same concept [as BlackBerry 10] so what we see is a natural opportunity to give everybody a case to the BlackBerry experience with BBM,” Bocking said. “We’ve committed to future parity and other platforms, but not all platforms have the same focus on productivity on messaging than what we have with BlackBerry 10.”

Bocking said BBM will flourish on other platforms because it approaches messaging different than other applications. He said that its ability to be more “private and intimate” is what distances it from other messaging applications.

He also mentioned the use of “BBM Channels” which is a media service where users can connect to wider audience based on interests including career industry.

When asked if BlackBerry faced any challenges by moving their messaging system over to competitor smartphones, Bocking responded by saying, “any decision, especially one of this magnitude, always get reviewed with vigor and this was no different than that.” Bocking also added that the expansion of BBM has received “very positive” feedback.

Although the application is slated for a summer release, BlackBerry still needs to get the approval from Apple and Android from those smartphone users to download it, but Bocking anticipates that shouldn’t be an issue.

“We’re going to try and make it available, and we expect, hope and anticipate that there are no problems with the approval,” Bocking said.