BlackBerry will offer versions of its BBM instant-messaging service on iPhones and Android devices, extending one of its most popular features beyond its own smartphones for the first time. BBM will be available as a free text-only application for the competing smartphones in the next few months before adding a voice feature, BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said on Tuesday at the company's annual conference in Orlando, Florida.
The move would give BlackBerry a way to capitalise on the popularity of BBM, which has more than 60 million users. The company is also taking a risk by allowing other handset users access to a service that had been only available on its own devices.
Heins said BlackBerry would offer BlackBerry Messaging, free of charge, to consumers using rival phones. "This is such a great experience, it is just too good to keep it only to ourselves. It's time to bring BBM to a greater audience," he said to cheers from the audience. BBM is used for 10 billion messages a day, he said.
BlackBerry dropped 1.6 per cent to $15.62 at 11:09 am in New York. The shares had climbed 34 per cent this year through yesterday.