updated 10:35 am EST, Thu March 3, 2011
Leaks hint RIM bringing BBM to Android and iPhone
RIM could bring its jealously guarded BlackBerry Messenger service to Android and the iPhone, a potentially significant rumor claimed Thursday. The strategy would involve a "stripped down" version of BBM that would focus on text chat but omit and geolocation and media sharing to still give users an incentive to use a BlackBerry. Pricing was still in flux, BGR heard, but it could either be free or involve either a one-off or subscription fee to avoid creating too much of a strong incentive to leave BlackBerry hardware.
Android was "definitely a go," the tip providers said of the BBM expansion, which could take effect this year. An iOS version was part of the plans but might not necessarily come out close to its Google equivalent.
The move would be a major gamble for RIM, which most believe uses the instant messaging as a way to lock in customers and keep them from switching to a rival platform. It has regardless felt threatened by cross-platform messaging services that can offer the same features and sued Kik to silence competition. Kik offers the same basic concepts of real-time notifications and message confirmations as BBM but works on Android and iOS, and worked on the BlackBerry until RIM forced it out. RIM fully endorsed Kik at one point and even held it up as an ideal example in BlackBerry App World until it realized the service was being used by owners to wean themselves from BBM.
RIM may hope that it would have a de facto instant messaging protocol for all phones, not just its own, and would only favor the BlackBerry by giving it the best feature set. The limitation would be risky as other IM clients can share photos and videos.
The company hasn't had opportunity to respond to the claims.