Cape Town - BlackBerry announced that it is preparing to launch its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service for non-BlackBerry devices.
"Upon release, BBM customers would be able to broaden their connections to include friends, family and colleagues on other mobile platforms," BlackBerry said at the BlackBerry Live event in Orlando.
The expansion of BBM targets users who have moved to alternative messaging applications like WhatsApp, Mxit and WeChat which, because of the cross-platform nature, are not device dependent.
"We're excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community," said Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of Software Product Management and Ecosystem, at BlackBerry.
The Canadian-based company has been on a charge to reign users since the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and the functionality of BBM was one of the reasons for the success of BlackBerry devices, especially in developing countries.
BBM and other chat applications effectively reduce the cost of messaging and because of the instant notifications, users are able to quickly detect when a friend is online as well as whether a message has been delivered and read.
The functionality of BBM increased with the launch of BlackBerry 10 and users will have to opt-in to the service.
"It provides customers with a high level of control and privacy over who they add to their contact list and how they engage with them, as invites are two-way opt-in. iOS and Android users would be able to add their contacts through PIN, e-mail, SMS or QR code scan, regardless of platform. Android users would also be able to connect using a compatible NFC-capable device," BlackBerry said.
Also on Tuesday, BlackBerry announced BBM Channels which will allow consumers to connect with brands and the company will add this functionality to the Android platform later in 2013.
There are currently 60 million active BBM users and the launch on Android and iOS is expected by June, as it is subject to approval by Google and Apple.
Cross-platform messaging applications may ultimately kill off revenue from SMS for operators as the applications rely of data rather than a fixed messaging cost.
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