Struggling smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry announced its popular messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), would be available for the first time to users of Apple’s iPhone and Google Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.
BBM will be available as a free download in Google Play and the Apple App Store starting Sept. 22, and customers will be able to download BBM by visiting the Website from the service from their smartphone browser.
The app for Android and iPhone features BBM Chat, which allows users to have conversations with friends on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones. In addition to letting users know that their message has been delivered and read, it also shows them that the contact is responding to the message.
In addition, with BBM, users can share files on the phone such as photos and voice notes, and BBM Groups lets users invite up to 30 friends to chat together, and goes a step further than multi-chat by sharing photos and schedules. With Broadcast Message, users can send a message out to all their BBM contacts at once.
"BBM is a very engaging messaging service that is simple to use, easy to personalize and has an immediacy that is necessary for mobile communications," Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry, said in a statement. "With more than a billion Android, iOS and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers."
On the security side, every BBM user has a unique PIN that maintains privacy, so users don’t have to give out their phone number or email address to a new or casual contact. Finally, BBM lets users post a personal message, profile picture and their current status, and lets contacts know in Updates.
Earlier this week the company debuted its latest smartphone handset, the Z30 smartphone, featuring the company’s BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.2 and sporting a 5-inch Super AMOLED touch-screen display. The device features a new generation antenna technology that dynamically tunes reception to give users better connectivity in low signal areas. The Paratek Antenna is designed to give users faster data transfers and fewer dropped calls in low signal areas, the company said.
The troubled company has seen its fortunes slide in recent years as consumers shunned the operating system and handsets for the popular iPhone and Android devices. During BlackBerry's prime—the years before the iPhone's introduction—it held a nearly 60 percent share of the U.S. market. And even during the third quarter of 2008, when Apple's share of the U.S. market spiked for the first time to 30 percent, BlackBerry held a 40 percent share, a low it had dipped to only once since its 2004 introduction.