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BlackBerry deals with BBM confusion

BlackBerry clarifies that its standalone messaging app is coming to Android and Apple users and counters Samsung's claims that it will be exclusive to its handsets.

business Updated: Sep 18, 2013 11:18 IST

BlackBerry clarifies that its standalone messaging app is coming to Android and Apple users and counters Samsung's claims that it will be exclusive to its handsets.


Looking over tech headlines, there are a lot of things BlackBerry has done wrong in recent months and recent years, such as its PlayBook tablet, but its decision to launch its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service as a smartphone app for all platforms is not one of them.

The app allows free text and voice messages between individuals and groups using the company's secure, encrypted platform and as a result has become the main motivation for purchasing a handset or sticking with the platform for many users, even in the face of growing competition from other services, such as WhatsApp and improvements to Google's Hangout app. In many African countries, for instance, where a BlackBerry PIN number is a status symbol, BBM has enabled a whole generation to embrace low-cost digital communication.

By opening up the app, this conversation can now flow across handsets and ecosystems, but on Monday, Samsung Nigeria tweeted that when BBM lands on the Android platform on September 20 it will be exclusive to Samsung Galaxy device owners until the end of 2013.

BlackBerry had been very quiet on the subject, confirming only that a platform-specific version of the app had been submitted to the Apple App Store platform for consideration at the beginning of September -- a process that usually takes roughly four days. However, following Samsung's tweet, the company issued a statement via the CrackBerry jorum in an attempt to clear up the mounting confusion. "The excitement around the upcoming BBM launch on iPhone and Android devices seems to know no bounds. Although I'm a big fan of this passion, I want to clarify that no one will have an exclusive on offering BBM. We'll be bringing the app to Android and iPhone users across the globe soon," said BlackBerry spokesperson Victoria Berry.

The app, when it does finally arrive on Google Play, is expected to need to run on a device with Android version 4.1 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or version 4.2 (Jelly Bean) installed in order to work. The Apple version will be optimized for iOS 6, the version that over 90 % of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices currently run.