x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

BlackBerry hopes to expand BBM to Android and iPhones

The company hopes to get approval from Apple and Google to launch a free BlackBerry Messenger, better known as BBM, application this summer.

BlackBerry's instant messaging service could soon be available on iPhones and Android handsets.

The Canadian company announced yesterday it was seeking approval from Apple and Google to launch a free BlackBerry Messenger, better known as BBM, application this summer.

BBM is an instant messenger service similar to Apple's iMessage and WhatsApp that allows users to send messages and photos via the internet instead of texting.

The move will be welcomed by those who have swapped a BlackBerry for other brands and miss the service and those who wish to stay in touch with BBM users.

"BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy," said Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of software product management and ecosystem at BlackBerry.

"We're excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community."

When the news broke yesterday, many took to social media to share their opinion.

One Twitter user, "I have long said that the most important feature of a BB is the BBM."

Others were sceptical, with one user tweeting: "Think BBM on iOS and Android is a mistake. Without that exclusive feature, what's to keep people using BlackBerry? Just the keyboard?"

BBM was briefly blocked by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in 2010 because of the encryption used on its messages. Services were soon restored but video and voice features remain unavailable in the UAE.

BBM has more than 60 million monthly customers, with more than 51 million people using it for an average of 90 minutes per day.

BlackBerry plans to release its Q5 handset this year.

ksinclair@thenational.ae