Reports: BlackBerry Messenger user manuals for Android, iOS leak online
BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) briefly posted user manuals introducing iOS and Android device owners to its cross-platform BlackBerry Messenger chat application, expected for official release by the end of September.
The step-by-step tutorials--posted to the BlackBerry website Thursday and removed soon after--explain in detail how BlackBerry Messenger operates, walking consumers through core features like real-time communication between contacts and groups, sharing photos, setting up user profiles, inserting emoticons and emoji, and creating BBM Groups for sharing calendars, files and related content with up to 30 people at one time. The manuals also indicate that the cross-platform BBM will work over both cellular and Wi-Fi.
BlackBerry confirmed plans to port the BBM service to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) 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 last month by BlackBerryOS.com indicate the BBM beta is optimized for devices running at least Android 4.0 and iOS 6.
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 and Kik Messenger. BlackBerry has 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 recently, 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.
The revamped BlackBerry 10 operating system, launched commercially earlier this year, has struggled to connect with consumers. BlackBerry smartphone sales slipped from 8 million in the second quarter of 2012 to 6.2 million in the most recent quarter, and its market share plummeted from 5.2 percent a year ago to just 2.7 percent, according to data from research firm Gartner. Earlier this month, BlackBerry announced its board of directors has formed a special committee to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale.
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