It’s news that will shock BlackBerry owners the world over, but a new report today claims that the Canadian smartphone giant Research In Motion is working on plans to bring its popular BlackBerry Messenger service to users of both Android and iOS devices.
According to a report by BGR, RIM is looking at the success garnered by copycat services such as WhatsApp and clearly feels that it should have a piece of the cross-platform instant messaging pie.
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.
The real question here though is whether any potential fees coming in from new BlackBerry Messenger users could possibly outweigh the lost revenue from selling BlackBerry smartphones. After-all, if you ask any BlackBerry owner why they love their phones so, they always point to BBM. Would they jump ship if the very same system was available on an Android device, or even an iPhone?
We’re a little skeptical about the whole cross-platform BBM idea here at Redmond Pie – we just don’t see RIM making one of its largest differentiators available to its direct competitors unless it could charge each manufacturer a licensing fee per handset sold.
Could this signal a shift from hardware company to software developer for the business smartphone behemoth? Could it open the doors for countless CEOs to dump their ageing hardware in favor of a shiny new iPhone 4 or Nexus S? If BGR’s sources are to be believed we could be waiting a while to find out, with an Android version of BBM expected ‘this year’. With no more specific timing information available that could mean as far away as 9 months, with an iOS port even further away.
Still, BlackBerry Messenger on an iPhone could be worth the wait!