Research In Motion is said to be prepping cross-platform versions of its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application for release later this year. According to multiple sources close to Boy Genius Report (BGR), an Android version "is definitely a go" with an iOS counterpart also on the horizon. Android Atlas reached out to RIM to confirm the report, but spokeswoman Marisa Conway responded that "RIM's standard policy is to decline comment on rumors and speculation."
One theory is that a stripped-down, lighter version of BBM will allow Android users to communicate across platforms with other clients, with RIM reserving additional features for the BlackBerry. Android and iOS users would presumably be able only to chat, while BlackBerry owners will still be able to share location and pictures with one another.
It's unknown at this point whether or not the Android app would carry a cost, but BGR believes that the client would be free. One idea could be to offer the free version to all with a paid, full-featured client available that would add to RIM's bottom line.
This could pan out to be a good move for RIM, providing a platform-agnostic service for mobile users. And instead of having zero presence on Android and iOS, it could come in and dominate a market it helped to establish.
The BlackBerry Messenger has been around for a longer time and carries more weight than competitors such as Kik and WhatsApp. With both of these apps already amassing more than 1 million Android downloads each, RIM could potentially be looking at millions of its own.
Updated at 1:39 p.m. PT with RIM's response.