Besides announcing the newest Q5 smartphone, BlackBerry made another rather “shocking” news today. BlackBerry messenger, the well-known messaging platform exclusively available for RIM Blackberry-made smartphones, will go cross-platform this summer. Developers have finally taken the decision to port BBM to Android and iOS platforms, in the chance of converting as many people as possible to the “dark side”.

The transition will slowly start by porting several crucial services such as messaging and groups, but through the passing of time other important components like voice, screen share and channels will soon find their way. On top of all things, the company feels so strong about the move that wishes to make Messenger available for free. The rather sad part in the whole story is that only iOS 6 and devices running at least Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be compatible with BlackBerry’s finest application.

BlackBerry Messenger’s features

bbm android ios

As a quick reminder, here’s what Android and iOS users should be getting in the following months:

  • Video calling over cellular network or Wi-Fi
  • Send / receive messages with unlimited lengths
  • The possibility to choose a BBM avatar and to set a personal status
  • Real-time confirmation for receiving / reading messages
  • Sharing of files with multiple users at once (this includes pictures, videos and more)
  • Smart contact adding, using QR codes, NFC or PIN
  • Location sharing
  • Conference creation

Furthermore, a new service called BBM Channels has been announced today and it will be featured on 3rd party platforms as well. In a few words, Channels is a way for users to update with new posts from different brands and even talk with them, like they already do on Twitter. But acting like a live RSS feeder is not the sole functionality of this new service. For instance, users can create a Channel themselves which can be followed by others to receive updates. Although celebrity or media orientated, Channels also allow one-to-one communication but only if the owner initiates it.

What does this mean for BlackBerry?

Besides a traditional QWERTY keyboard and a stylish design, BlackBerry Messenger is one of the strong motives why some people even buy a BlackBerry in the first place. Although I haven’t got the chance to use it properly, there are tons of people stating that BBM has no worthy competitor in the Android, or iOS market. Considering these, why would BlackBerry give up this advantage and share it with others?

Well, as even Thorstein Heins said it, BBM will be somewhat limited in its early cross-platform period. Although all features will arrive on the other side, there are strong chances that BlackBerry will develop something important in the future, and then keep it only for its customers.

On the other hand, by sharing the goods with millions and millions of people, the Canadian-based firm has a great chance of free advertising. Imagine stylish ads with the latest BlackBerry Z10 smartphone running along the screen while you chat. There’s a huge marketing potential here that will surely be captured. While opportunism is not this company’s strongest point, I am more than sure that BlackBerry will make the most of it.

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