BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) will release a cross-platform version of BlackBerry Messenger for free on Android and iOS devices sometime this summer. Samsung announced Monday that a partnership for BBM for Android will see the app in the Samsung App store “soon.”
BlackBerry Messenger is a communication app that allows users to send messages longer than the standard text – up to 2,000 characters, with confirmations when those BBMs are sent and read. BBM utilizes a smartphone data plan, rather than the SMS technology that telecoms often charge a premium to use.
Samsung said BBM for Android will be released for all Galaxy smartphone consumers across Africa. BlackBerry announced in May that BBM will have a summer release date for Android and iPhone, but the partnership also highlights aspects of the two companies’ strategy for emerging markets.
In February, BlackBerry launched BBM Money in Indonesia for mobile money transfers. The Globe and Mail of Toronto wrote in June that mobile phones were making cash nearly obsolete in Africa, so a similar cross-platform program launched by BlackBerry for the continent could boost brand recognition for both companies.
BlackBerry in June clarified what it meant by "summer" for iPhone and Android users awaiting a BBM service: sometime before Sept. 22. BlackBerry offered an early version of BBM for Android and iPhone to registered members of its BlackBerry Beta Zone last week. The Canadian handset manufacturer has since closed registrations for the BBM for iPhone and Android beta.
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BBM 7.0.1 allows users to make video calls over data and send screenshots in addition to standard messages, as well as media files up to 6MB. BBM also now allows messages to be sent to groups in addition to individuals. Voice calls can be made with BBM, but only when connected to a WiFi network. Similar services are offered by Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and WhatsApp on iPhone and Android devices.
The full press release follows:
Samsung to offer BBM in Samsung App store for all GALAXY Smartphone devices
5th August, 2013 – Today, Samsung has announced that the upcoming BBM™ app will be available in the Google Play and the Samsung App store soon and available to all Samsung GALAXY smartphone consumers across Africa.
Says George Ferreira, VP and COO of Samsung Electronics Africa: “At Samsung we are all about collaboration, innovation and driving consumer experience based on choice, value and customisation to suit every lifestyle. As such, bringing a top tier messaging service such as BBM is another way that we are expanding the catalogue of our messaging services and offering customers an amazing way to stay instantly connected with colleagues, friends and family.”
BBM will form part of Samsung Messaging Hub as a complementary addition to the current slate of propriety and third party messaging services that Samsung customers enjoy – all aimed at empowering consumers to connect with each other in better ways using text messaging. Offering BBM on GALAXY smartphones in Africa will give Samsung customers access to the BBM social network, including BBM chats, multi-person chats and and BBM Groups, which allows BBM customers to create groups of up to 30 people, as well as the ability to share photos and voice notes.
“It is important to strike a balance between developing high-tech smartphones that carry brands in to the future and creating a sustainable ecosystem that primarily supports the needs of consumers that use these devices. Value added services are considered a prerequisite in the fast-paced, challenging environment that exists today and as a result, we will continue to drive innovation through our smart hub functionalities to ensure our consumers have the choice which they desire,” concludes Ferreira.
“BBM provides one of the best and most robust mobile messaging experiences today. BBM has always set the standard for mobile instant messaging and we are thrilled to bring this experience to Samsung customers across Africa,” said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President BBM at BlackBerry. “BBM is loved by people who rely on fast, trusted messaging, along with the immediacy that our delivered and read statuses bring. Samsung customers will soon join the BBM nation in its love of the “D” and “R” notifications.”
The companies have also agreed to joint marketing efforts to showcase BBM for Android to customers and to mobile users across Africa.
At launch, the app will be available for download from the Samsung and Google Play Stores, at no cost.