Following the announcement of the Q5, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins announced a surprise for the attendees at today’s BlackBerry Live presentation, confirming that the company’s BlackBerry Messenger messaging platform would be ported to Android and iOS after years of speculation and rumors. The availability of BlackBerry Messenger outside of the BlackBerry platform on iOS and Android reflects the market dominance of iOS and Android, but it may also signal BlackBerry’s desire to push key platform functionality as a defacto standard.
While the availability of BBM shouldn’t be a complete surprise, the fact that it comes just as the company is mounting its comeback does come off as strange timing, as there are many group messaging alternatives available for iOS and Android that emulate and even exceed certain facets of BBM, even after factoring out the screen sharing, voice calling and new Channels functionality.
However, the expansion does mean that Android and iOS users will be able to take advantage of the aforementioned functionality in future updates, and unlike the current slate of group messaging alternatives, BBM will be free when it’s released later this year and will be compatible with iOS 6 and Android ICS at minimum. Below, more information on the new related Channels functionality also announced today:
Top BBM Channels Features:
- Create a channel – Create, edit and publish in an instant, and there are no limits to the number of followers you can have in your channel. Securely manage your channel from either a BlackBerry smartphone or the web.
- Discover channels – BBM Channels includes a carousel that lets you discover new channels. You can share channel invites within a BBM chat, and people can be added or invited using the channel’s PIN or QR code.
- View – View profiles for each BBM Channel you choose to follow.
- Subscribe – Subscribing to a channel allows the channel owner to send you timely and relevant updates, giving the subscriber instant access to your news, deals, events or whatever you want to communicate. Subscribers can choose to receive notifications when new posts are available.
- Participate – Participate and engage in conversations with your favorite people or communities by “Commenting” and “Liking” posts from channels you subscribe to. Channel owners have the option to directly chat one-on-one with a subscriber.
- Monitor engagement – Easily use built-in measuring tools to assess and monitor follower engagement and interaction