BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the popular messaging service that has long been a key feature of the BlackBerry operating system, will become a multiplatform service this summer when BBM launches as a free app on Android and iOS, CEO Thorsten Heins announced on Tuesday.
At the close of his BlackBerry Live 2013 keynote—echoing the famous "One More Thing" of Steve Jobs—Heins surprised the crowd and the press by announcing that BBM is ready to take its benefits to BlackBerry's fiercest competitors.
"We are confidnet that the time is right for BBM to become a multiplatform messaging solution," Heins said.
BBM originally set the standard for mobile messaging and collaboration by offering a secure messaging service that showed a status of each message to let you know if it was delivered (D) or read (R). It blew away standard SMS text messages and was envied by users of other mobile platforms.
When BlackBerry hit its rough patch over the past several years, BBM ws rightly pinpointed as one of the platform's bright spots. There were calls at the time to take it multiplatform to cash in on its prowess, but the decision was made to keep it BlackBerry-only and put it in the forefront of the product's marketing to help attract users to the platform.
Since then, Apple has launched its own BBM competitor with iMessage and multiplatform competitors like WhatsApp and Viber have arrived and gained millions of users across iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and other platforms.
A former BlackBerry lover responded to my Twitter post during the keynote about BBM coming to iOS and Android by saying, "Too late? WhatsApp has taken care of this need." He recently converted from BlackBerry to Android.
Nevertheless, the BlackBerry Live crowd continued buzzing about the announcement after the keynote ended, with several attendees asking each other if the iOS and Android BBM apps would be as good as the BlackBerry 10 app and whether BlackBerry might launch a desktop BBM app as well.