We have learned from multiple trusted sources that Research In Motion is planning to bring its beloved BlackBerry Messenger app and service to Android, and eventually to iOS as well. According to our sources, RIM has not yet finalized details surrounding timing or pricing, but we have heard that the company might make the software free to all users. We’re also told strategy is still being developed, however, and RIM may end up charging users a one-time fee or even a recurring fee for access to its BBM service on third-party platforms.
It might seem a bit strange for RIM to want to bring the software that is responsible for keeping BlackBerry devices in the hands of countless potential defectors, but in the big picture, we think it could make sense. The company is getting very frustrated with applications like WhatsApp and Kik offering third-party experiences based on a concept RIM invented, and RIM apparently wants to own the space.
As far as what Android and iOS users can look forward to, we’ve been told RIM will offer stripped down versions of the BBM experience BlackBerry owners know and love. That way, Android and iOS users can communicate with practically anyone who has a smartphone using BBM, but they might not be able to share photos, location, or videos (when RIM crosses that bridge). Users who want the full BlackBerry Messenger experience will still need a BlackBerry smartphone to get it. At the same time, RIM could own the entire messaging app category on every major smartphone OS platform and could potentially draw new users in because it has given them a taste of what BlackBerry Messenger is all about.
Right now, we have heard that Android is definitely a go. But again, we’re not sure on timing, though our sources are confident that it will launch some time this year. RIM chose Android first because of the fact that it could develop and integrate something like this much easier with an open platform, but the plan is to build and deploy an iOS version at some point as well.