BlackBerry has announced that its flagship messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger, will be coming to Android this summer. It will be available as a free download from the Play store, and will compete with the likes of Google’s new
Hangouts app, Facebook Home and WhatsApp in the battle to dominate the mobile messaging space.
The move to make BBM a cross platform solution – it will also be available for iOS – was first mooted two years ago when BlackBerry was the market leader in messaging and ranked among the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers.
Today the company’s market share stands at less than three per cent and falling, according to the latest figures from analyst IDC. The same figures put Android’s share at an incredible 75 per cent.
Messaging is increasingly becoming one of the key battlegrounds in mobile, and is seen as one of the best ways to locks users into a particular platform. Google’s Hangouts app was a necessary way of tidying up the various disparate messaging elements in Android, and also combines with Google+ and Gmail across multiple platforms.
Facebook Home was a similar attempt to put messaging at the heart of the mobile experience, although the Android app has so far received a very lukewarm reception (with a rating of just 2.3 stars in the Play store a month after its launch), and the HTC First, a device based around the software, was reportedly hit by very poor sales in the US.
Meanwhile ‘over the top’ messaging apps are plentiful. The most popular, the multi-platform WhatsApp, recently announced that it has more users worldwide than Twitter. It’s into this crowded market that BBM is belatedly making its move. The brand may be diminished and the decision may appear to be a last resort for BlackBerry, but the app and service are still more than competitive and fondly remembered by many of its past users. That should at least guarantee a certain level of interest in the app when it arrives this summer.