Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry, revealed on stage today that the company’s messaging service will be coming to Android and iOS. ‘It’s time to bring BBM to a greater audience, no matter what mobile device they carry,’ said Heins. Until now, BBM has always been a BlackBerry exclusive feature but with many multi-platform chat apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Tango, LINE, Facebook Messenger, and KakaoTalk eating up market share, BlackBerry has to act quickly.
While it’s great that BBM is coming to Android and iOS, the first version will be very basic, only including messaging and groups. Heins promises voice, screen sharing, and Channels in a later update, though there’s no indication when that will happen. BBM will have to evolve quickly if it wants to stand a chance against already established chat apps on Android and iOS.
Speaking of Channels, BlackBerry revealed this new social platform to allow celebrities and brands to gain ‘followers’ like Twitter. This will be a way for BlackBerry users to keep up to date with celebrities and brands, though it seems to be a very limited service at this point. Channels will be available in beta to everyone running BlackBerry 5 to 10.