RIM Looks To Developers With Updated BBM

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Research in Motion is hoping its updated BlackBerry Messenger app will attract more developers

Research in Motion (RIM) is hoping that the new version of its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will encourage more software developers to include it in their applications.

RIM describes BBM as one of the largest mobile social networks in the world. BBM version 6 provides support for “BBM connected” apps, which should allow users to easily interact with each other from within the BBM connected app itself.

Essentially what this means it that it will now be possible to include the BBM element, i.e. the BlackBerry Messenger app, within another app. For example, with a BBM connected game app, users can invite their BBM friends to join them in a game and then chat with one another in real time while the game is being played – without ever leaving the game app.

BlackBerry Only

“BBM 6 marks the beginning of an even greater social experience for BlackBerry smartphone users,” said Alistair Mitchell, VP, BBM Platform & Integrated Services at Research In Motion. “It also represents an incredible opportunity for developers to leverage the viral nature of the BBM service and we have already begun working with various developer partners who will be bringing their BBM connected apps to BlackBerry App World this week, offering users highly engaging app experiences.”

However, Research in Motion confirmed to eWEEK Europe that this new capability will only apply to BlackBerry apps. RIM has not the taken the bold step of opening out the BBM app so that third party devices, such as a Symbian handset, could utilise BBM on that platform.

For the time being, therefore, BBM remains firmly locked onto the BlackBerry platform.

That said, the ability to include BBM in other BlackBerry-based apps is still noteworthy.

RIM believes that the additional functionality of BBM will allow users to, for example, share app experiences with their friends. Users can simply select a BBM contact directly within the BBM connected app they are using and instantly let their friends know about an app they have discovered.

Alternatively users can simply pull up their BBM contact list directly from within the BBM connected app and start chatting. For example, the functionality can enable everything from enhanced social game play to collaboration through productivity apps.

However it is also clear that the new BlackBerry Messenger will be used by RIM to counter Apple’s new move with the forthcoming iMessenger. Apple will include the “iMessenger” conversation platform when it releases the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 5.

Tough Times

RIM is of course undergoing a tough period at the moment, and recently announced that it will axe 2,000 members of staff.

In its June earnings report, RIM revealed that its first quarter revenues were down 12 percent from the previous quarter to $4.9 billion (£3bn). Net income was also down. RIM downgraded its revenues forecasts, causing its shares to drop 60 percent from their year high.

The Canadian company is struggling to maintain a grip on its core enterprise market in the face of a growing challenge from Android and Apple. As well as competing on handsets, RIM also faces the problem that Apple and Android offer a far bigger “App Ecosystem”, compared to Research in Motion’s BlackBerry App World.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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