BlackBerry is reportedly mulling over a potential spin off of BBM as it looks to compete more directly with services such as WhatsApp. According to “people familiar with the matter,” speaking to The Wall Street Journal, the Waterloo company could potentially turn one of its biggest features into a subsidiary, called BBM Inc., ahead of a potential sale. The company refused to comment on the rumor, but did reaffirm its plans to offer BBM for iOS and Android “this summer.”
In its heyday, BBM was one of the most beloved services in mobile, and is still regarded as one of the best that ever was. BlackBerry threw some people for a loop earlier this year when it said the service would arrive on Android and iOS, and it appears the company’s plans will go even deeper than it lead on. In addition to typical messaging capabilities, BlackBerry is “working on a number of offerings” aimed at improving the service.
It’s unclear if/when BlackBerry will make such a move, but the company clearly thinks highly enough of its service to spin it off. However, with around 60 million users on the BBM platform, the company still has a ways to go if it’s to compete with WhatsApp, which currently has over 200 million active users. One way BlackBerry might do this, in addition to iPhone and Android apps, is introduce a desktop client, though sources say that’s merely a consideration at this point.
Since announcing BBM would come to other mobile platforms, there’s been little movement in the BlackBerry camp, and no indication of how development is going. There’s less than a month of summer left, so BlackBerry doesn’t have much time if it wants to release BBM during its promised launch window. But, given BlackBerry’s previous track record with the much delayed BlackBerry 10, we’re not getting our hopes too high.