There have been several rumors and even alleged screen shots suggesting that Research In Motion was interested in licensing its popular BlackBerry Messenger service, lovingly referred to as BBM, for months and months now. Those rumors have just been shot down by an unnamed RIM source who recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal. While the service has grown to boast more than 55 million users, smartphone owners in the United States have gravitated away from RIM’s BlackBerry OS and have decided to leave their beloved BBM friends behind. In fact, the company’s global smartphone OS market share was just 6.4 percent during the first quarter of this year, down 29.7 percent from the same quarter last year.
RIM is betting on its BBM platform, and new features that it plans to add to it, in an effort to bring back that lost customer base. That wasn’t always the case. In fact, RIM’s executives once thought to license BBM to carriers and other phone makers under an unofficial “SMS 2.0” moniker. The Wall Street Journal said the idea was to “help the company stay relevant until its next line of phones launched.” It’s not a bad idea, either, considering that U.S. consumer interest in the phone maker’s current BlackBerry 7 platform is basically nil.
RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins turned shot those BBM licensing plans down, however. “It was not up for discussion,” one source told The Wall Street Journal. Hopefully the planned enhancements to BBM are enough to attract consumers back, but I’m not so sure that will be the case.