BlackBerry in talks to preload Messenger on rival mobile devices
BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is in negotiations with competing manufacturers to offer its signature BlackBerry Messenger chat service as a preinstalled application on their phones.
Last month, BlackBerry announced it will port BBM to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, enabling users to interact across multiple mobile operating systems. "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.
This summer, BlackBerry will introduce native BBM apps for iOS and Android, promising 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 iOS and Android 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 BBM 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. Tear acknowledged the possibility that some longtime BBM users may now abandon BlackBerry devices knowing they can still maintain their BBM accounts on other mobile phones, but said "We don't feel like that is a risk. Obviously, if we did, we might have acted differently."
BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) unveiled its overhauled BlackBerry 10 OS in late January. Its flagship Z10 smartphone went on sale in the U.S. two months later. BlackBerry is looking to BB10 to resuscitate user interest in its platform: Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reports that BlackBerry fuels just 0.7 percent of smartphones sold in the U.S. during the three-month period ending in April, far off the pace established by Android and iPhone.
- read this CNet article
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