RIM In Talks To Port BBM To Android And iOS

Research in Motion is reportedly in negotiations over porting BlackBerry Messenger to Android and iOS

Research in Motion is reportedly in talks with Google and Apple, about making its popular BlackBerry Messenger app (BBM) available for people using the Android and iOS platforms.

So says a report on the technology blog Boy Genius Report (BGR), which cited “multiple trusted sources” for the news.

“BGR has learned from multiple trusted sources that Research In Motion is planning to bring its beloved BlackBerry Messenger app and service to Android, and eventually to iOS as well,” said the blog.

This follows rumours last month that RIM’s forthcoming Playbook tablet could run Android Apps in an effort to boost developer interest. RIM is also rumoured to be building Android Apps support into all of its BlackBerry devices.

Stripped Down Version

“According to our sources, RIM has not yet finalised details surrounding timing or pricing, but we have heard that the company might make the software free to all users. We’re also told strategy is still being developed, however, and RIM may end up charging users a one-time fee or even a recurring fee for access to its BBM service on third-party platforms,” it added.

The news, if true, is significant, as RIM is working hard to shore up its market share in the face of growing competition from Android and iOS-based devices. Until now, popular apps such as BBM have helped RIM retain the loyalty of its customer base.

But it is faced with third party applications such as Kik and WhatsApp that offer free real-time texting across multiple platforms including Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices. And there is no doubt about the interest in this area. Facebook, for example, recently announced that it has acquired a BBM alternative Beluga.

“As far as what Android and iOS users can look forward to, we’ve been told RIM will offer stripped down versions of the BBM experience BlackBerry owners know and love,” read BGR blog. “That way, Android and iOS users can communicate with practically anyone who has a smartphone using BBM, but they might not be able to share photos, location, or videos (when RIM crosses that bridge).

“Users who want the full BlackBerry Messenger experience will still need a BlackBerry smartphone to get it,” it added.

RIM: No Comment

“Right now, we have heard that Android is definitely a go. But again, we’re not sure on timing, though our sources are confident that it will launch some time this year. RIM chose Android first because of the fact that it could develop and integrate something like this much easier with an open platform, but the plan is to build and deploy an iOS version at some point as well,” the BCR blog read.

RIM meanwhile told eWEEK Europe UK that it could not comment on rumour and speculation.

The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service has made headlines recently after the Indian government threatened to impose a possible ban on Research in Motion’s BlackBerry service in that country.

As a compromise, RIM eventually agreed to provide the Indian government with access to the BBM service, but this has not satisfied Indian officials, who still want access to RIM’s encrypted enterprise email service.

RIM has said it cannot do this however, as it is never in possession of the encryption keys.