BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins announced during the company’s annual BlackBerry Live conference today that their popular social messaging system BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), will be made available across multiple mobile platforms later this year.
“It’s time to bring BBM to a greater audience. No matter what mobile device they carry,” Heins said during the conference. He added that BBM will be made available for Android and iOS as a free app this summer, which should be available for African users in a couple of weeks.
For the app to work on iOS, users will have to make sure that they update to at least iOS 6 or above, while Android users will have to update their devices to version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or above.
Heins added that BlackBerry has more than 60 million monthly active customers, with more than 51 million people using BBM an average of 90 minutes per day, and added that BBM video chat, voice and screen sharing features will also be available across multiple platforms.
“For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service. BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community,” said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President, Software Product Management and Ecosystem, at BlackBerry.
BlackBerry also announced that BBM will be getting Channel functionalities, where users will be able to chat to more than one person as a time. Any users will be able to create a channel, and then other users can subscribe to the channel to receive updates as they are posted.
Also during the BlackBerry Live conference, the company unveiled their Q5 QWERTY keyboard phone, which is aimed at emerging and developing markets.
“BlackBerry is excited to bring a new BlackBerry QWERTY smartphone, the BlackBerry Q5, to our customers in selected markets around world,” said Heins. “The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical QWERTY keyboard. It is for youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected.”
“The phone has a 3.1-inch touchscreen atop a keyboard, just like the presumably higher-end Q10 that launched earlier this spring. Unlike the more sober Z10 or Q10 phones, though, the Q5 will come in red, white, black, and pink. It’s set to launch in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America starting in July,” The Verge wrote.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor