Will BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) see a release date for Android and iOS devices tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 18)? BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) invited select media outlets to an event tomorrow amid international anticipation for a cross-platform version of BBM for Android and iPhone.
The BlackBerry event has raised expectations that the company is finally prepared (and approved) to release BBM for Android and iPhone. The newest revelation comes from Samsung Mobile Nigeria's Twitter account, which states that Samsung will have a three-month exclusive on BBM for Android.
YES WE DID!!!! Available frm Friday RT @supersanusi: If Samsung really did get the 3 month exclusive like I heard, that would be something
— Samsung Mobile NG (@samsungmobileng) September 16, 2013
BlackBerry’s BBM communications director Victoria Berry told CrackBerry that Samsung did not have an exclusive on BBM for Android -- in fact, Berry said that there will be no exclusives on BBM for Android at all:
“The excitement around the upcoming BBM launch on iPhone and Android devices seems to know no bounds. Although I’m a big fan of this passion, I want to clarify that no one will have an exclusive on offering BBM,” Berry told the site. “We’ll be bringing the app to Android and iPhone users across the globe soon.”
A pirated version of the BBM for Android beta is being shared online on sites like XDA Developers, but the software package (APK) is locked by BlackBerry against unapproved users and will not function or load past the welcome screen. Android users looking for BBM will have to wait, along with iPhone owners, until the official release.
Tomorrow’s event is scheduled for 3 p.m. Although BlackBerry has not clarified which time zone the invitation refers to, it reportedly will take place in Malaysia (UTC+8). Therefore, 3 p.m. MYT is 3 a.m. EDT for BBM fans on the East Coast of the U.S. and 9 p.m. in South Africa.
In May, BlackBerry announced a cross-platform version of BBM for Android and iOS (iPhone) that will work alongside devices running the company’s BB10 operating system. Android users looking for BBM should be careful searching for the app in the Google Play Store, as numerous fake versions have appeared that install malware, including adware and viruses, on devices.
BlackBerry confirmed to International Business Times yesterday that BBM for Android and iPhone apps are "free to download," but the rep would not comment on data plans or a potential BBM desktop version. BlackBerry’s public-relations team previously said in a tweet that an iOS version of BBM had been submitted to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for approval sometime around Aug. 23. BlackBerry may wait to release BBM for Android in the Google Play Store (which has a less-rigorous approval process) until after the iPhone version is approved for distribution.
The recent invitation and potential BBM for Android release date mentioned on Twitter suggest a BBM for Android and iPhone release date sometime this week.
Early this month, a BBM for Android beta tester leaked a video showcasing the cross-platform messaging service. While the beta BBM for Android lacked much of the functionality found in BlackBerry devices, it was styled much like BlackBerry Messenger on the BB10 OS.
BlackBerry is reportedly attempting to sell itself by November as its handset sales fail to recoup their former glory, and it is considering spinning off BBM into its own separate division as well as developing a desktop version of BBM. Samsung is promoting the Android-compatible release of BBM for its Galaxy line of smartphones in South Africa, where cross-platform messaging apps and BlackBerry handsets are popular nationwide.
International interest in a cross-platform version of BBM is high as mobile-device users in expanding markets 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.
BBMs can be up to 2,000 characters long, compared to a standard text message, which is limited to 200 characters. BlackBerry Messenger confirms a BBM’s send/receive status with a notification icon, and the current BB10 version includes free video chat over data and Wi-Fi, as well as voice calls over Wi-Fi. BBM for Android and iOS will compete with popular cross-platform messaging apps Facebook Messenger, Kik Messenger and the increasingly dominant WhatsApp Messenger.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referenced the nation where the Samsung Mobile Twitter account was based.
Thomas Halleck is a tech reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews and mobile news....