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BlackBerry Messenger not on iPhone or Android after all

BlackBerry bosses have seen sense and ruled out licensing BBM to other phones.

BlackBerry Messenger won't be showing up on iPhone or Android any time soon. BlackBerry bosses have seen sense and realised that licensing BBM to other phones could see people ditching their BlackBerrys altogether.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new boss of BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion shut down talk of licensing BBM to other phones, without any discussion.

Rumours that BlackBerry Messenger could come to other phones began circulating early last year. We wondered then what was in it for RIM, as we suspect even the staunchest BBM devotee could be persuaded to ditch their BlackBerry for a cheaper, more app-tastic Android phone. And that's even more true now, as BlackBerry's share of the smart phone market is in freefall.

Although it's continually trying to convince us that the next version of the BlackBerry software will be the best thing since bread with gaps in between, it seems to me BlackBerry phones need a complete hardware reinvention. The only unique selling point of a new BlackBerry is familiarity: people love their Qwerty keyboard. But that sticks you with a tiny screen, no good for web browsing, apps, games or video.

I should note that BlackBerry's reliable security is also a selling point -- but that's not going to get the average phone-buyer moist of trouser.

Even though it won't be showing up on rival phones, RIM has at least managed to get the service into its own tablet. The forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook 4G is set to have BBM built-in, which is nice -- the original PlayBook didn't even have email.

BlackBerry Messenger is a phenomenally popular messaging service, especially among the yoof. RIM claims 55 million users. However, its strength as a unique selling point has taken a knock after an explosion of rival free messaging apps, as well as last year's catastrophic outage. With Android tempting many phone fans away, BBM contact lists are starting to look a little sparse.

Rival services include Apple iMessage, Samsung ChatON and IM for Nokia -- not to mention apps like WhatsApp, which aren't limited to just phones of the same type. It's estimated that free messaging apps like this have cost mobile phone networks more than £8bn -- but then they have relieved some of the pressure on increasingly strained phone networks.

Are you addicted to BBM? Would you defect to another phone if you could take BBM with you? Which phone would you opt for? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.