BlackBerry readies BBM messaging app for Android and Apple users

Untethers famous app from own platform

BlackBerry will this weekend take a historic fork in the road as it makes what was once its distinguishing application, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), available for download to Android and Apple smartphone users.

Announced as an intention several weeks ago, Android 4.x users are expected to get access to the app on 19 September at 12 Noon BST from Google's Play, followed 12 hours later fro iPhone users from Apple's App Store.

The move is an extraordinary moment for Blackberry and given that BBM messaging will be free also between users running the app, potentially disruptive for the mobile market as a whole if it can grab new users. There are currently no plans for a Windows Phone app.

The firm's strategy of turning BBM into a larger social platform explains why it has taken the interesting if risky decision to untether its messaging system from its own declining hardware and software platform.

"Later this year, BBM Channels will provide a forum for active, real conversations between you and the people, brands, celebrities, artists, service providers, communities and more, that matter to you," blogged BlackBerry's Donny Halliwell.

"By creating a Channel, individuals and brands can engage their friends and communities in conversations sparked by their thoughts, ideas and passions," he said, underlining BlackBerry's hope that BBM can become a mobile social network under the radar of operators as well as Google and Apple.

Since the company announced the move some time ago, it has been generally well received by the industry.

"The news that BBM is to appear on the Android platform suggests that the writing may be on the wall for BlackBerry as we know it," said AppSense chief development officer, Keith Turnbull at the time.

BBM's managed security environment could be another big lure for some users; BlackBerry will only make money if business users continue to pay license fees to use the server software, underwriting free consumer access.

"BlackBerry's greatest strength remains its popularity amongst enterprises due to a strong reputation for robust security. Recent independent research commissioned by AppSense revealed that only 12 per cent of UK enterprises saw BlackBerry's as a potential security risk compared with 63 per cent of businesses believing that Android a high security risk," said Turnbull.

This security isn't as watertight as might have once been assumed, with a German newspaper recently claiming that there is evidence among the leaks made by Edward Snowden that the NSA might be able to access messages sent through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).

Elsewhere the news has been dire, with US media has reported that the firm is preparing to lay off 40 percent of its 12,700 workforce, a grudging confirmation by the old-style BlackBerry is now in deep trouble.

The company isn't giving up that easily, this week announcing its most powerful smartphone to date, the Z30, due for release later in 2013.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags BlackberryAppleMobile &ampPersonal TechGoogleNetworkingsecuritywireless

More about AppleApple.AppSenseBlackBerryGoogleMessengerNSA

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place