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BlackBerry looks to spin off Messenger division -- report

The company's new firm would be known as BBM Inc., according to a recent report. The move would put the app in direct competition with WhatsApp.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

BlackBerry might decide to spin off one of its divisions, according to a new report.

BlackBerry is trying to determine whether it should spin off its BlackBerry Messenger service to a separate company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the plans. The newly formed company would be known as BBM Inc., according to the Journal's sources.

Since its inception, BlackBerry Messenger has been one of the favorite platforms for BlackBerry users. The app allows users to instant-message with other BlackBerry users without paying text-messaging fees. Although BlackBerry devices have lost their popularity, BBM has remained a popular messaging option. The move would put the spinoff company in direct competition with other services like Whatsapp and WeTalk.

If BBM Inc. is formed, it won't be long before the messaging service is expanded to other platforms, according to the Journal. In fact, a working version of BBM that can work across several platforms was built over a year ago, according to the Journal's sources. A desktop version also is running internally at BlackBerry.

The possible BBM spinoff comes after BlackBerry announced that it has appointed a special committee to explore "strategic alternatives" for its ailing option. BlackBerry claims to be open to any and all options, including selling its operation to another firm. So far, however, no plans have been announced.

CNET has contacted BlackBerry for comment on the Journal's report. We will update this story when we have more information.