BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is expected to release the instant messaging client BBM, or BlackBerry Messenger in the next month. The company has not given an exact release date for the cross-platform BBM client, however the Wall Street Journal reports that BBM for Android and iPhone is the start of a completely new company called BBM Inc.
BBM remains a popular messaging platform for BlackBerry users worldwide, despite the decline of the Canadian handset manufacturer’s phone sales. With a new cross-platform app, BlackBerry will allow iPhone and Android users to connect with each other, as well as devices running the BlackBerry operating system (BB10) such as the Q10 and Z10.
The report said on Tuesday that BlackBerry is considering spinning the entire division into a more independent subsidiary. The report also said that BlackBerry is also planning a desktop client of the BBM service. A BlackBerry spokesperson declined to comment, saying they had “no further announcements” beyond the already-announced BBM client for Android and iOS.
BlackBerry said that they would release BBM for Android and iPhone at a date “this summer,” explaining that it a release date would be dictated when the app was approved for inclusion in the Apple App Store and Google Play. BlackBerry later said that they meant the North American definition of summer, meaning BBM for iPhone and Android devices should see a release date before Sept. 21.
What is the point of a BBM client for Android and iOS?
BBM uses a cell phone’s data plan rather than the SMS text platform, which is often regulated by major service providers, who sometimes charge a premium for the service. Additionally, BBM for Android and iPhone will allow users to send a longer than standard text message -- up to 2,000 characters -- with confirmations when the BBM is sent and received.
The newest version of BBM (7.0.1) for the BB10 platform also allows users to make voice calls over WiFi, and enables live video conferences, or video chat, over cellular data plans. BBM users can send live feeds of their current smartphone screens with a feature called Screen Share, as well as media such as music, photos and video clips up to 6 megabytes. On BlackBerry handsets, BBM also connects with certain apps, so that users can chat within programs such as Twitter and Facebook.
A BBM client for desktop operating systems would further enhance the cross-platform nature of the software, which the handset maker maintains is more secure and customer-friendly than traditional messaging options. BlackBerry responded to reports that they were interesting in selling the company earlier this month, explaining that several options were on the table, including a potential sale, spinoffs or going private.
Demand for the app remains high, as fake versions of the BBM for Android app appeared for a while on the Google Play Store, which installed spyware and was downloaded over 100,000 times before it was removed.