Is BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, for Android and iPhone devices coming on Sept. 18? BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) has fueled speculation that the official release date for BBM on Android and iOS will come before the end of summer by sending out invitations for an international event on Wednesday.
BlackBerry announced at its annual BlackBerry Live conference in May that it would release BBM across multiple platforms, allowing mobile users to send and receive messages of as many as 2,000 characters among BlackBerry 10 OS, or BB10, Android and iPhone devices. According to the invitations for the event on Wednesday, it begins at 3 p.m., but BlackBerry has not yet replied to a request for information about which time zone the invite refers to.
Update 9/17/13: BBM For Android will not, as some reports claim, be exclusive to Samsung Galaxy devices for the first three months of its release. Read the full report.
“We have not officially announced the date of launch for BBM on Android and iPhone,” a BlackBerry representative told the International Business Times, explaining that those interested in the application can sign up at the company’s official site. Android users should be wary of the numerous apps describing themselves as BBM for Android in the Google Play store, as numerous fake versions have appeared that install malware on users’ devices.
BlackBerry confirmed to IBTimes that BBM for Android and iPhone apps are "free to download," but would not comment on data plans or a potential desktop version of the App. An unofficial release of BBM for Android has made the rounds on sites like XDA-Developers, however users report that the leaked app will not function. BlackBerry has confirmed that beta software has functionality locked and can only be operated by approved users.
A member of BlackBerry’s public-relations team said in a tweet that the company had submitted an iOS version of BBM to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for approval sometime around Aug. 23. This means Apple has had BBM for iPhone for more than three weeks now, but has not yet approved it for distribution on iOS devices. BlackBerry is likely waiting to release BBM for Android at the Google Play store -- which does not have such a rigorous approval process -- until after the iPhone version is approved.
Before the tweet, a BBM for Android beta tester leaked a video showcasing the cross-platform messaging service on the Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) mobile operating system. The beta BBM for Android did not have full functionality, but was styled similar to the BB10 version.
BlackBerry is reportedly attempting to sell itself sometime before November, as its handset sales dwindle. The company is reportedly also talking about spinning BBM off into its own separate division, and releasing a desktop version of BBM.
BlackBerry will partner with the competition on BBM for Android, as Samsung promotes the app’s release for its Galaxy line of smartphones in South Africa, where the app is popular nationwide. A BlackBerry employee in India clarified that the company was referring to the North American definition of “summer” when it announced the BBM for Android and iPhone release date, and said it expected to release the app by the end of the month.
International interest in the cross-platform messaging app is high as mobile-device users in expanding marketplaces look for ways to avoid short message service, or SMS, charges from wireless providers. BBM for Android, iOS and BB10 sends and receives messages via mobile data plans, and since the messages contain a very small amount of data, users are able to communicate more for less than it would cost to send a standard text. BBM messages are also larger than SMS messages, which have a 200-character limit. BBM also confirms when a message is delivered and sent with a notification icon. The free app will compete with popular cross-platform messaging apps Facebook Messenger, Kik Messenger and WhatsApp.
Thomas Halleck is a technology reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews, gadget news and more....