BlackBerry has announced that it plans to make its popular messaging service, BBM, available across multiple platforms this summer. The news emerged from BlackBerry live 2013, which kicked off yesterday in Orlando, Florida.
BlackBerry Messenger has long been one of the exclusive selling points of BlackBerry handsets. However, while the service useful initially as a USP, its lack of availability on other platforms has left room for rival services such as WhatsApp to gain considerable market share in the mobile messaging market.
The first release of BBM for Android and iOS (subject to approval from the Play Store and the App Store respectively) will make the service’s core features available to users, including:
- Delivery reports/read notices
- Multi-person messaging
- Voice note sharing
- BlackBerry groups, which can include up to 30 users and share calendar appointments, photos and more
Later on in 2013 BlackBerry expects to add functionality for its newly announced BlackBerry Channels (a Twitter-like service for BBM), voice chat and video chat to its Android/iOS apps, which will be free to download.
BlackBerry is not the only company trying to unify its messaging service at the moment. Facebook recently stepped up its offering with improvements to Facebook Messenger (which now includes free voice calls in some regions), WhatsApp does not yet have voice calling, but is the most widespread cross-platfrom messaging app in many regions, Skype has long offered free voice calls and is being integrated with more of Microsoft’s services, plus Google is expected to announce a massive update to its messaging portfolio at Google I/O this week.
It’ll be interesting to see which of the above makes it to the top first – a truly unified cross-platform messaging app would only leave room for one or two of these to be prevalent in the long run.