BlackBerry issuing Messenger beta invites to Android, iOS users


BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has begun inviting selected Android and iOS device owners to trial the beta version of its forthcoming cross-platform BlackBerry Messenger chat application.

BlackBerry confirmed plans to port the BBM service to Android and Apple's iOS in May, promising to launch sometime this summer. While the device maker has not yet announced an official rollout date or specifications, BlackBerry Beta Zone email invitations obtained by indicate the BBM beta is optimized for devices running at least Android 4.0 and iOS 6.

The BlackBerry Messenger app will enable users to interact across multiple mobile operating systems and will include core features like one-on-one and multi-person text chats, voice and video chats, voice note sharing and BlackBerry Groups, which enables as many as 30 BBM users to share calendars, photos, files and additional content. The Android and iOS apps also will support BBM Channels, a new social engagement platform within Messenger allowing customers to connect with businesses, brands, celebrities and groups.

BlackBerry is opening Messenger to users on competing operating systems in an effort to rekindle consumer interest in its brand and combat a new generation of cross-platform, over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp, Kik Messenger and Viber. Last month, BlackBerry revealed it is in negotiations with competing manufacturers to offer BBM as a preinstalled application on their phones. "There is interest from other handset makers," BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear told CNet, noting that interest is fueled by BBM's sizable userbase: 61 million worldwide, including 42.7 million daily active users. Tear declined to name any specific companies in talks to offer the preloaded BBM app.

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