At the BlackBerry developers conference, CEO Thorsten Heins made a surprise announcement: BlackBerry Messenger will be available for iOS and Android by this summer. Heins also unveiled a new lower-cost handset.
The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama reported, "BlackBerry, with an eye on making a bigger footprint in the mobile space, announced that its popular messaging system, BlackBerry Messenger, will soon be available on competitors’ platforms. BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, will be coming to phones that support Apple’s iOS 6 platform and Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich. BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said that the BBM apps for those platforms will come this summer and will be available for free."
BBC News explained, "Blackberry said it would initially offer texts, photo messages and group sharing functions on devices running Google's Android and Apple's iOS operating systems from 'the summer.' It added it planned to roll out screen sharing, voice and video calls - all without charge - later in the year."
Computerworld quoted Heins who said, "BBM is so great that it's too good to keep only to ourselves. Why now? It's a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it's time that BBM become multi-platform."
The Associated Press noted that BlackBerry also announced a new handset: "Heins said the lower-cost Q5 device will be available in selected markets this summer The gadget is part of RIM's effort to regain market share lost to Apple's iPhone and Android smartphones. It is the company's third smartphone to run the new BlackBerry 10 system. The Q5 will have a physical keyboard, something that sets RIM's devices apart from Apple's iPhone and most Android phones."