updated 04:35 pm EDT, Mon June 6, 2011
iMessage hits RIM with BBM-alike on iOS
Apple made clear its intentions to steal away BlackBerry users by launching its own equivalent to BlackBerry Messenger in iOS 5. iMessage offers much of the same SMS-free messaging as its RIM equivalent, even including delivery and sending receipts, group messaging, and live typing notices. Group messaging works, and conversations sync across devices so a user can start on an iPhone and finish on an iPad.
In a poke at RIM's limitations, iMessage works over both 3G and Wi-Fi, not cellular alone or with the forced tethering for PlayBooks. It's also possible to push locations along with photos, videos, and contacts.
The Apple version is expected to arrive with iOS 5 in the fall.
An introduction of a direct competitor to BBM is unusually blunt for Apple and may trigger a reaction from RIM, for whom the messages were once one of its core selling features. The company has shown a high level of jealousy as it once promoted Kik, a third-party app that provided many BBM features, only to sue the developer once it became clear Kik was being used as a gateway to switch to Android or iPhone. Kik is banned from BlackBerry App World and is limited to non-BlackBerry platforms so far.
Regardless of whether not iMessage exists, RIM was just recently overtaken by Apple in US smartphone share after both BBM and secure push e-mail were no longer enough to keep customers loyal. Outdated hardware and a relatively poor app selection have been considered major detriments where Apple and Android phone makers have leapfrogged it in some areas.
RIM has been asked for comment but hadn't responded as of this writing.