RIM is gearing up to introduce BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to Android and Apple devices in an effort to expand the reach of the mobile platform and encourage users to jump ship after sampling the feature.
The initial plan is to offer iPhone and Android users a stripped down version of BBM, according to Boy Genius Report.
Customers will be able to communicate directly using instant messaging, but will be unable to share photos, location or video. Only BlackBerry owners will be able to access full functionality.
Availability and pricing details have yet to been confirmed, but the article did suggest that RIM may charge a one-off fee or subscription for the app.
The release of a BBM application on third-party platforms is a risky move, but could turn out to be a smart one for RIM, according to Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC.
"The application has been immensely popular with consumers, especially in the UK," he told V3.co.uk. "Putting it on touch-screen only devices may actually amplify some of the strengths of RIM's hardware such as its Qwerty keyboard."
McQuire also noted that BBM is largely a viral tool used by individuals rather than a standard platform in the enterprise.
"However, BBM will certainly grow in popularity in the enterprise as it grows virally among consumers," he said.
Meanwhile, the enterprise-focused BlackBerry Playbook tablet could be released in the US at the end of this month and start shipping in the UK as early as 10 April, reports suggest.
V3.co.uk contacted RIM to confirm the reports, but the firm declined to comment on the existence of a BBM application for third-party vendors, and said only that the PlayBook will launch in UK in the second quarter.
RIM has also confirmed that it will launch a number of BlackBerry devices with built in near-field communications (NFC) capabilities in what is shaping up to be a key year for the company.
Stephen Bates, UK managing director at RIM, said at a Westminster Forum event earlier this week that the opportunities presented by NFC are " endless".
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