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Monday, 2 September 2013

Why BBM will soon be on Android and iPhone

In a matter of weeks, possibly this month, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will be available for
download on Android phones and Apple’s iPhone. Already, Samsung has been reported to be
running adverts to spread this news. Readers of BlackBerry blog CrackBerry reported seeing TV
ads in a few different African countries during the last Manchester United vs. Chelsea match.
The advert briefly appeared on Samsung Ghana’s YouTube account before being taken down.
Samsung Ghana’s Facebook page is currently teasing users with the status, “Another
messenger is coming on Samsung phones sooner than you think... what is it?”
Last month, Samsung Africa revealed BBM would become part of the Samsung Messenger Hub,
but didn’t announce a date.
Blackberry CEO, Thorsten Heins, at the BlackBerry Live conference in May, had earlier
made
the announcement that BBM which had been the major attraction to Blackberry phone, apart
from the pride of owning one, was to become a multi-platform application. Now, the company
has offered some insight as to why it is making this move. According to a Wall Street Journal
report, BlackBerry might decide to spin off one of its divisions.
BlackBerry is trying to determine whether it should spin off its BlackBerry Messenger service
to a separate company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people who claim
to have knowledge of the plans. The newly formed company would be known as BBM Inc.,
according to the Journal’s sources.
As BlackBerry faces the prospect of potentially having to part out its more valuable assets for
sale, BBM is a natural opportunity that comes to mind, and the recent decision to take the
messaging platform to both iOS and Android makes a lot more sense once one considers that
it means diversifying the brand prior to a potential sale.
The possible BBM spinoff comes after BlackBerry announced that it had appointed a special
committee to explore “strategic alternatives” for its ailing option. BlackBerry claims to be open
to any and all options, including selling its operation to another firm.
Since its inception, BlackBerry Messenger has been one of the favourite applications for
BlackBerry users worldwide, and perhaps the only reason why many had chosen to buy the
phone. The app allows users to instant-message with other BlackBerry users without paying
text-messaging fees.
“You can make the argument that BlackBerry has more to gain by encouraging BBM network
growth once it starts offering stuff on multiple platforms, including ones that don’t have fast-
dwindling user bases, and that it stands to gain additional revenue from those users via
marketing or potential commercial services made available to BBM in the future,” suggested
Techcrunch writer, Darrell Etherington.
He adds that the real reason to open up BBM may be “to put some shine on the apple at this
stage of the game; accomplishing the kind of growth needed to make BBM a sustainable
business would be tough in the face of other messaging applications like WhatsApp, but you
can still inject a fair amount of value for a prospective buyer by offering something that is
platform agnostic.”
BlackBerry is experimenting with one-to-many broadcasting via BBM Channels, and the Wall
Street Journal said Blackberry is looking into building desktop applications as well. The report
also states that a cross-platform BBM has been tested internally for as long as three years,
which means this was definitely held back as a last resort until it was clear BlackBerry-only
BBM wasn’t going to mount a return to positive growth.
The launch of BBM for iOS and Android appears even more imminent, as BlackBerry had
accidentally published user guides to its website. The guides explain in detail how the app
will function, how to get started, and other features.
At launch, Heins had said that only messaging and group features will be available, but
promised that the rest of BBM will eventually make its way to the Android and iOS versions
including screen sharing, BBM voice, and the newer BBM channels.
The question now for the company is whether it’s too little, too late. Today’s app stores have
become saturated with a plethora of mobile messaging apps for users to choose from,
including Skype, 2go, Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Tango, MessageMe, Google
Hangouts, and many others.

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