We didn’t see this one coming. While most people were under the impression that BlackBerry Live 2013 would be a low-key affair, the company has just delivered a one-two punch that could propel the brand and the BB10 platform forward.
Right at the end of a nearly two-hour-long keynote, Thorsten Heins broke the news that BBM is leaving the BlackBerry stables and will be launching on Android and iOS in the coming months. Users on iOS 6 or higher, and 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher will be able to download the BBM app for free and join in on one of the most popular messaging experiences in the world.
BBM coming to Android and iOS
Initially, only the messaging and group features of the app will be accessible to non-BlackBerry users, with BBM Video, BBM Channels, Screen Sharing and voice functions expected to be launched in staggered stages through this year.
In addition, Heins also announced a new social-media-centric BBM Channels feature, which hopes to add an extra dimension to all that time you spend clicking away on BBM. Channels is a way for celebrities, people, companies and brands to connect with fans and other like-minded individuals through a stream of content within BBM. The new service allows users to search for and subscribe to channels, comment and share posts with friends and also have one-to-one interactions with celebrities and brands. Users can also create and curate their own channels, and get metrics to track the amount of traffic their BBM posts receive. This is akin to the brand pages on Facebook and celebrity or brand Twitter handles.
At launch, musicians like Alicia Keys, Goo Goo Dolls and Tegan and Sara, and the Mercedes Petronas F1 team will have channels with more additions coming in the weeks to follow. Once again, there is no specific release date for BBM Channels but Heins did mention a summer launch. The service is currently in a beta stage and will gradually open up to more users. You can log on to www.blackberry.com/bbm/channels and sign up for the service.