BlackBerry to bring BBM to Apple and Android devices

Smartphones and tablets sitting on top of a laptop

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) users might soon be able to send and receive messages from contacts with Android and iOS devices.

BlackBerry, the smartphone maker formerly known as RIM, said it plans to make BBM available as an app for iOS and Android devices later this summer.

Before that can happen, BlackBerry will need to get the software approved by Google and Apple to get it listed in their respective app stores.

The announcement coincides with the BlackBerry Live conference, which is currently taking place in Orlando, Florida. It also follows yesterday's announcements at the event about updates to the BB10 operating system and the imminent arrival of its new Q5 device.

In a blog post, BlackBerry said iOS and Android users will be able to take advantage of BBM's instant messaging, multi-person chat and voice note sharing capabilities.

They will also be able make use of the BlackBerry Groups feature, which allows BBM users to invite up to 30 people to privately share calendar invites, photos and other documents.

Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of software product management and ecosystem at BlackBerry, said the time is right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service.

"BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy," he said.

"We're excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community."

BlackBerry claims BBM is used by more than 51 million users everyday who send and receive an average of 10 billion messages each day. This figure could potentially skyrocket if Google and Apple grant permission for the software to be used on their devices.

This isn't the first time the company has opened up its services for Android and iOS users, as it recently announced that BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES 10) will soon provide support for competing devices.

The software will allow iOS and Android device owner to make use of a BlackBerry Balance-like feature called Secure Workspace that will keep personal and corporate information on the same device separate.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.