BlackBerry in talks to preload BBM on rival handsets

BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear tells CNET that the company is talking to a number of partners and handset manufacturers.

BlackBerry announced BlackBerry Messenger would go cross platform at its annual conference last month. Brian Bennett/CNET

BlackBerry is working with other handset manufacturers to get its BlackBerry Messenger service preloaded on to their phones, according to a top executive.

"There is interest from other handset makers," BlackBerry Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear told CNET in an interview on Wednesday.

BlackBerry is on the lookout for ways to expand the reach of BBM ever since it said the service would break beyond the confines of BlackBerry and move to other operating systems . The company said BBM would appear on iOS and Android devices this summer.

Tear declined to comment on when exactly the cross-platform version of BBM would be available.

He disputed the notion that BBM was a ghost town, as many users -- particularly in the home market of North America -- abandoned BlackBerrys for iPhones and Android devices. BBM has an active user base of 61 million customers around the world, with 70 percent using it daily.

The large base of active users -- including countries where it is a mainstay means of communications -- is why other handset manufacturers would be interested in having BBM pre-installed on the phone, Tear said. He declined to mention any specific companies.

BlackBerry is opening up BBM in an effort to get non-BlackBerry users to start thinking about its products again, as well as grow the user base at a time when other messaging services such as WhatsApp boast a user base that exceeds 200 million people.

The danger, of course, is that customers drop their BlackBerry phones and keep their BBM accounts on rival devices. But Tear said that isn't a concern.

"We don't feel like that is a risk," he said. "Obviously, if we did, we might have acted differently."

BlackBerry executives are so confident in BlackBerry 10 that they believe its customers will stick to the platform, and that new users enticed by BBM may make the switch.

"BBM is a strong platform that provides a different way of communicating," he said.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Is your phone battery always at 4 percent?

These battery packs will give your device the extra juice to power through all of those texts and phone calls.