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BlackBerry Messenger goes multiplatform


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In an unexpected announcement, BlackBerryTM has revealed plans to make its BlackBerry Messenger service multiplatform, downloadable as an app to run on Android and Apple operating systems. Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s Chief Executive, told the audience at its annual developers’ conference to expect the release around summertime, hoping the app will keeps its head above water amongst strong competition from existing offerings such as Whatsapp.
Heins also revealed at the conference that BlackBerry Messenger is still used by 60 million BlackBerry owners each month.

It is hoped that this release will draw back the customers who have migrated to Apple and Android services due to BlackBerry’s inability to compete in terms of handset functionality. After all, the free messaging service has arguably become the strongest influence over consumer adoption of BlackBerry mobile services. The company is now hoping to engage corporate audiences in a similar way. BlackBerry’s previous business pull was its email service, which has now been rivalled with Windows and Android phones offering advanced mail solutions; it is thought that the addition of functions such as screen sharing and video conferencing after the initial launch, without additional costs, will lure in the corporate customers lost to the appeal of other smartphones.

Reactions to this addition to its service portfolio have been mixed. While many are excited at the prospect of regaining their BlackBerry Messenger service, some are suggesting that this introduction will negatively impact the sales of BlackBerry smartphones. While this does seem likely, I personally don’t see this as the problem that many are reporting it as. This step back from physical kit could in fact provide the stepping blocks for a hosted BlackBerry service, with additional BlackBerry functionality (on top of its messenger service) being provided remotely to mobiles. And we’re already seeing this happen: Adobe recently moved to a Cloud-based subscription service for its design software from its previous disc-based offerings. What all of this suggests to me is that, despite its decline in popularity over recent years, perhaps BlackBerry is staying ahead of the curve in this increasingly Cloud-based age.



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