BlackBerry Messenger May Find Its Way to Android and iPhone

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BlackBerry’s instant messaging service—fittingly called BlackBerry Messenger—may someday be available as a standalone application for iPhones and Android handsets, according to BGR.com.

In its current form, BlackBerry Messenger (or “BBM”) facilitates lightning quick back-and-forth between BlackBerry users with features like group chat, location sharing, the ability to share what music you’re listening to, and photo sharing. It’s kind of part instant messaging, and part text messaging—but without the character limits imposed by text messages.

It’s a closed circle, in that you add contacts via their identifying PIN numbers or by scanning someone’s unique barcode with your BlackBerry’s camera. There are a handful of social networking elements as well,  such as being able to update your current status for all your friends to see.

By extending the BBM service to iPhone and Android handsets, BlackBerry would be able to leverage functionality that it arguably does better than anyone else—quick, simple group messaging—and potentially get users of these other platforms hooked on it.

BGR.com reports:

“As far as what Android and iOS users can look forward to, we’ve been told RIM will offer stripped down versions of the BBM experience BlackBerry owners know and love. That way, Android and iOS users can communicate with practically anyone who has a smartphone using BBM, but they might not be able to share photos, location, or videos (when RIM crosses that bridge). Users who want the full BlackBerry Messenger experience will still need a BlackBerry smartphone to get it. At the same time, RIM could own the entire messaging app category on every major smartphone OS platform and could potentially draw new users in because it has given them a taste of what BlackBerry Messenger is all about.”

This is still in the rumor stages, though the news apparently comes from “multiple trusted sources.” We’ll reportedly see an Android version “some time this year” followed by an iPhone version afterwards. No word, either, on whether the apps will be free, carry one-time fees or recurring fees.

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