BlackBerry has revealed real-time messaging service BBM will be available across Apple and Android platforms from summer 2013.
This latest move by BlackBerry has prompted loyal customers and critics alike, to question the manufacturer’s decision and discuss its effect on the future of the company.
BlackBerry claims to have over 60 million active users of BBM, with more than 51 million spending an average of 90 minutes per day using the instant messenger platform. For many, this service is one of the main USPs to using a BlackBerry handset so how do BlackBerry plan to attract and retain customers? When BBM is available on Apple and Android devices, what will stop existing BlackBerry customers switching smartphone provider?
At the company’s developer conference yesterday, Vice President of software, Andrew Bocking announced,
‘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.’
Chief Executive of BlackBerry, Thorsten Heins, described the move as ‘a statement of confidence,’ but will BBM realistically be the messenger service of choice for iOS and Android users already hooked on the ever-popular Whatsap, Viber and WeChat services? Compared to WeChat, who claim to have 190 million active users and Whatsap, with their reported 200 million active users, BBM will be one of the smallest cross-platform apps.
So what are the unique benefits of BBM?
BBM is celebrated for the immediacy of its messaging service and for allowing multi-person group chats of up to 30 people. However, these are rivaled elements to the service. Where BlackBerry carves a niche is through the high level of control and privacy it provides each BBM user; contacts can be securely added via PIN codes, email addresses, SMS or the scanning of a QR code. For business users currently using iOS and Android devices, the security systems offered by BBM is likely to be a major benefit.
What does the future hold for BlackBerry?
Despite creating a large question mark over the future of the company, BlackBerry’s decision to end exclusivity of its BBM platform could be a sign that more change is to come. Some say the company’s latest move promises more operational overhaul and therefore further innovation in the future. Watch this space.