Here's a story for the crazy bin - according to sources inside RIM, the company is planning on launching its BlackBerry Messenger service on Android and iOS devices in the near future. My first thought in hearing this news was that it seemed like nonsense. BBM is what keeps BlackBerry handsets in customers' hands at this point. It's certainly not handset design, minus the Torch, or OS design.
So, what would BBM on Android or iOS mean for RIM? It would certainly mean they would have the ability to completely own the messaging space on 3 of the top 5 mobile platforms. Companies like WhatsApp and Kik wouldn't stand a chance against the powerful features that BBM brings to the table. Their success, however, is entirely based on how well they market the product.
Wait, that seems to be all they are advertising lately. Every time I turn around I am seeing a commercial on television touting the benefits of BBM in the real world. Could this be an indication that they are going to be expanding the application's reach? How about the disastrous hiring portal that RIM created only 2 months ago? Are they expecting to hire a lot of new people to develop these apps?
How could RIM fail at this? Hit the break to find out.
I can think of a couple ways this could go horribly wrong for them. First, it's RIM and they seem to have a talent for taking something successful and popular and never evolving it until it finally dies. That could certainly happen here. If it isn't able to keep up with its competition on the other platforms, they could be out of business before they launch.
Secondly, they will have a major battle against Apple to get their app approved for the Apple App Store. If Google couldn't get their Google Voice app approved for over a year, what makes RIM think that the BBM will have any better luck? On the other hand, as Apple quickly loses marketshare, it might not matter in 12 months when the battle is finally over.
Lastly, there is the price issue. Clearly they won't want to give it away for free, unless a lot of the features are missing, like picture or video messaging, etc. Get people addicted to the basics of your service and hope they abandon Android to come over to the BlackBerry family. The other option is they sell the service. A small one-time fee could help recoup their costs, but certainly wouldn't present them with a revenue stream to encourage them to continue working on the product. The only sensible situation is for them to charge a monthly fee. However, with the new iOS rules for subscription, they may not be able to win there either.
When it all comes down to it, my guess is that this is a rumor that will turn out to be a wonderfully orchestrated Internet hoax. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.