For better or worse, it’s been a busy day of BlackBerry news, with the launch of its new 5-inch Z30 handset followed up by reports of impending job cuts and confirmation that BBM will land on iOS and Android this weekend.
Following weeks of speculation, as well as the odd leak and hint, the troubled smartphone maker said BlackBerry Messenger will be available from the Google Play store on Saturday and the Apple App Store one day later.
Announced in May, the BBM expansion plan aims to make the time-honoured free chatting service the dominant messaging service on mobile platforms, but it faces stiff competition from the likes of Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype and countless others.
The app will enable real-time cross platform chatting with groups and individuals, as well as photo and voice note sharing. The BBM pin functionality also means users will not have to give their phone number or email accounts out to “casual” new contacts.
Pushing the merits of the new app, which will require iOS 6 and iOS 7 or Android Ice Cream Sandwich and upwards, the company said: “BBM gives you a private social network for active, real conversations and it has more than 60 million customers on BlackBerry alone. The overwhelming majority use BBM an average of 90 minutes per day. BBM customers collectively send and receive more than 10 billion messages each day, nearly twice as many messages per user per day as compared to other mobile messaging apps. Messages on BBM are typically read within seconds, reflecting how truly engaged BBM customers are.”
However, in somewhat less promising news, The Wall Street Journal reports that the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is planning on cutting a massive 40 per cent of its workforce by the end of the year.
The beleaguered company is currently courting a potential sale of some or all of its business after the new BB10 OS failed to revive its fortunes.
As one era comes to an end, as the curtain falls on BBM exclusivity, the fall of the once-great BlackBerry empire may not be far in conceding to the dominance of iOS and Android.