BlackBerry's long awaited messaging app, BBM, has finally been released outside of the company's own backyard. As promised earlier this week, the Waterloo company on Saturday began rolling out BlackBerry Messenger to iOS devices, with Android availability expected shortly. The rollout process is occurring in waves at the moment—I haven't been able to access the app for iOS just yet—but it's only a matter of time before you can start exchanging PINs with your closest friends.
In a short interview with CNET, Andrew Bocking, who oversees BBM for BlackBerry, said the platform's arrival on other ecosystems signals a chance for BlackBerry to become relevant again.
"When you look at the messaging world, it's clear there's no dominant player in the mobile messaging space," Bocking said, perhaps failing to acknowledge WhatsApp, Kik and a handful of other messaging platforms. Bocking said introducing BBM to the top two mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, allows BlackBerry's remaining userbase to engage with those on the competing ecosystems. Instead of "linking to a phone," BBM uses a unique identifier for increased privacy and security.
As of now, Bocking says there are 60 million people using BBM, though that number could certainly increase quite a bit with the apps rolling out on iOS and Android. Those who have previously used BBM will likely be most interested in using the platform; but how about consumers who have no idea what BBM is? Bocking says its "delivered and read" notifications system, referred to as Ds and Rs, sets BBM apart from other competing services.
At launch, BBM for Android and iOS will have the "core" features, with other additions such as video chats, voice calls and BBM Channels coming "throughout the rest of the year." Unsurprisingly, it doesn't appear BlackBerry has any intention on releasing BBM on Windows Phone. "Our focus is on the largest addressable market."