BlackBerry said to be considering spinning off BBM

BlackBerry is considering spinning off its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service, as the struggling firm continues to mull over its options.

The BBM service is a core asset of the firm's operating system and turning it into a subsidiary would give it more independence, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

The firm already announced it will make the BBM service available on the Android and iOS operating systems to try and expand its user base.

Source suggest that BlackBerry developed a cross-platform version of BBM three years ago, but for some reason executives decided not to launch it. A desktop version of BBM had also been used internally at the company, but has not been offered as a service to the public.

BlackBerry is expected to introduce a service called BBM Channels, though, as it looks to try and compete with social networking tools such as Twitter. Channels will aim to allow brands and celebrities to interact with fans and customers in a similar way to Twitter.

Despite being one of the pioneers of the mobile instant messaging service, BlackBerry has seen its BBM user base haemorrhage. BBM currently has 60 million monthly active users. In comparisoin cross-platform app WhatsApp has five times the number of users at 300 million.

BlackBerry has struggled in the smartphone market over the last 18 months. It spent the majority of 2012 developing its BlackBerry 10 operating system. However, sales of the BB10 devices have been lacklustre and the firm is now mulling over strategic options, including licensing out the platform and selling off assets.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.