RIM has updated its popular Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service, adding functionality allowing BlackBerry owners to use the instant messaging service from within applications.
BBM 6 will enable 'BBM connected' apps allowing friends and colleagues to contact each other in real time.
At present there are 22 apps that support the functionality, the most notable being location-based services such as Foursquare and Poynt.
RIM has confirmed that more BBM connected apps will be showcased at the BBM Apps Hackathon in New York from 11 to 12 August.
Although RIM is promoting this functionality mainly as a social tool, there are valuable business applications.
The BBM 6 app will tie in with productivity apps such as Unvired Workflow for SAP, allowing increased collaboration between colleagues.
"The BBM integration with Unvired ensures quick turnaround and collaboration between employees, not just for workflow but other uses like checking discounts for a customer, or escalating a customer grievance," explained Srinivasan Subramanian, chief executive of Indience InfoSystems.
"If the user has some queries while approving the workflow, they can BBM their colleague or manager, transfer a screenshot of the workflow item and clarify. The BBM chat can also be emailed to maintain an audit trail."
Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC, argued that it makes sense for RIM to enrich the application experience by embedding BBM functionality.
"BBM has been an unintended success story for RIM on BlackBerry devices. It has been very successful with consumers so naturally social applications offer good synergies with the application," he said.
"We will see RIM increasingly integrate BBM with enterprise workflow applications in future as well through the likes of ISV partners such as SAP and Microsoft."
The move to integrate BBM with other applications appears to be a good strategy as RIM looks to regain some momentum in the smartphone market.
In March, it was suggested that RIM would make the BBM platform available on Apple and Android, but this no longer appears to be the case, as BlackBerry devices would lose a key differentiator.
Apple is set to roll out a direct competitor to BBM, iMessage, when it launches its iOS 5 operating system later this year.
A video demonstration of BBM on Foursquare is available below:
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