Blackberry To Release BBM On IPhones & Android Devices

As part of its ongoing bid to make up for lost market share, iconic smartphone maker Blackberry has announced it will release its hugely popular messaging system BBM on IOS and Android devices. The move, widely anticipated for years, puts the free BBM service in direct competition with increasingly popular mobile chat apps WhatsApp, Viber, Line and Kik (located practically in Blackberry’s backyard, Waterloo Ontario).

Widely viewed as the “killer app” behind Blackberry’s value (besides the physical keyboard), the change in strategy is a “statement of confidence,” offered  BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. Speaking at  BlackBerry Live in Florida, Heins added “it’s time, to bring BBM to a greater audience.”

Once approved by Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the app will be available free — most likely this summer.

While Blackberry’s move is viewed as a smart one, its lateness underscores an ongoing problem with the smartphone maker: it could’ve released cross-platform versions of BBM well before chat apps like WhatsApp even had a chance to gain market share. Now the company finds itself forced to play catch up in a category it more or less invented and dominated for years.