iPhone and Android users will gain access to mobile giant BlackBerry's popular messaging service BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for the first time this summer, the company has announced.
More than 51 million BlackBerry users communicate daily via BBM, one of the earliest mobile chat tools to give users a free and private means of staying in touch over the internet.
Andrew Bocking, an Executive Vice President at BlackBerry said in a blog post: "For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service.
"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. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community."
BBM will compete with other free messaging services already available to smartphone users running the iOS and Android operating systems, including WhatsApp and Viber.
The necessity of a personal PIN to use BBM, supplied with BlackBerry's phones and shared only with contacts with whom users wish to communicate, is one of BlackBerry smartphones' most attractive aspects.
Mr Bocking's comments may imply the BBM PIN will remain a feature in the apps now being developed for iOS and Android.
iOS 6, the operating system run by iPhone and iPad, and Android's Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone software will be the first to run the free app, according to the Business Insider website.
Another motive of attracting more users to Blackberry and its BBM, just after the launch of the Blackberry Q5 - (A budget version of Blackberry's flagship Q10 device , a smartphone targeted at emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East.)
In five and a half years, Android has come from nowhere to crush Apple and Microsoft in the mobile device market. How long until PC OEMs decide to take a gamble on the winning mobile OS and load Android onto PCs?
The market — which takes into account smartphone, tablet, and notebook shipments — grew to 308.7 million, representing year-on-year growth of 37.4 percent. But despite this market segment including traditional notebook devices powered by Windows, it is Android, a product of the Open Handset Alliance, that is making the biggest gains.
During the quarter, Android was the operating system powering 59.5 percent of smart devices shipped. Behind Android was Apple's iOS with a 19.3 percent market share, and Microsoft, with 18.1 percent.
And it is tablets that are driving this growth, not smartphones, and definitely not notebooks. Over the period, worldwide tablet shipments increased by 106.1 percent year on year, to 41.9 million units, and while Apple continues to be the big fish in the tablet space with a 46.4 percent share, even the iPad is not immune to Android, as it lost share for the third consecutive quarter.
The Canalys data for the quarter speaks volumes.
But let's take this data and bake it into a pie.
Presented this way, it is clear that Android is crushing Apple and Microsoft in the mobile device market, putting the squeeze on not only Microsoft, but Apple, too, the company that sparked the smartphone and tablet revolutions in the first place.
Given Android's success in the mobile market, one has to wonder how long it will be until we see the operating system loaded onto PCs and go head to head against Windows and iOS. Given the way that buyers (consumers and enterprise alike) have embraced Android on smartphones and tablets — activations of new devices sit at 1.5 million daily, or 45 million every month — it seems logical to give consumers what they want, and put this operating system onto notebooks, convertibles, and hybrid systems.
When it comes to PCs, neither Windows nor OS X seem to be igniting the imaginations — and opening the wallets — of consumers. Cheap (possibly in the region of $200) PCs would be just what PC OEMs need to inject a new lease of life into the stagnating market.
Windows Blue, from all leaks and tips I've received, is not a do-over. (If it were, it would take Microsoft a lot longer than nine or ten months to deliver it.) And ignoring customer confusion isn't a virtue; it's stupidity.
This armchair pundit finds it refreshing to hear Windows honchos admit that Windows 8 isn't selling as well as they hoped and that they want to make its successor more comfortable, familiar and usable for the Windows installed base.
In addition to the optional Start Button and boot-to-desktop options, there may be other interface adjustments in the works, according to one of my Blue tipsters. I hear the Windows team may also be tweaking the Charms to make them a bit easier to use with a mouse. There might be new built-in tutorials and in-context help coming to Blue. And word is there may be adjustments to the Start Screen designed to make Blue easier to use for Desktop users. One of my sources said some of these tweaks may not be in the Windows Blue preview release coming at the end of June, but that they still could make it into the final product.
If any or all of these tweaks make it into the final version of Blue, it's nothing but goodness. If you're a user who likes Windows 8 already, great. Just ignore new options and keep on keepin' on. If you're someone like me -- who is still running Windows 7 on two of my three Windows devices (with Windows RT running on my Surface RT) -- maybe Blue will make you reconsider whether you might find the new Metro-centric Windows a little more palatable because of these changes.
Before Windows 8 launched, I said I thought the operating system would face a rough road. My reasoning at the time was there were few PCs or tablets that made Windows 8 usable. And for those of us who might be interested in putting Windows 8 on existing non-touch hardware, the usability was questionable. Now that Windows 8's been out for about six months, I feel like my early inklings were true. I wouldn't call Windows 8 a disaster (with 100 million licenses sold), but I also wouldn't call it a barn-burner success.
My biggest criticism for Microsoft in all this isn't that the company is trying to make some adjustments to improve usability with Blue. Instead, I can't but help wonder why Microsoft -- with all its telemetry information, customer satisfaction data, and beta-testing input -- still went ahead with what its Windows execs must have known full well would be a confusing and less-than-optimal experience for many Windows users.