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RIM gives BlackBerry Messenger a new social life

BlackBerry-maker RIM announces some changes to its peer-to-peer BlackBerry Messenger service that will allow third-party app makers to let BlackBerry users communicate and share data in apps.

BlackBerry Messenger
RIM is expanding Blackberry Messenger, its peer-to-peer communications service.

For years, BlackBerry Messenger has been one of those native apps that has flown a little bit under the radar. RIM's announcement today at its third-annual BlackBerry Developer conference shines a brighter light on the peer-to-peer communications platform, and grants it more social skills.

The new BlackBerry Messenger platform will now allow applications like those in the Blackberry App World to tie into the chat client to take advantage of its ability to push content from one BlackBerry user to another in as little as a single click. For example, you'll be able to select an option while playing a multiplayer game to invite other BlackBerry Messenger contacts to play along.

Application developers will get access to a suite of APIs and tools that will let them create the Messenger-compatible extensions necessary for the expanded content-sharing abilities. However, RIM didn't share a timeline with us as to when the BlackBerry Messenger Social SDK will arrive for developers in beta form. All we know right now is that it's coming "soon."

If RIM has a few surprises up its sleeve today, the new Blackberry Messenger platform isn't one of them. RIM had all but spelled out the specs in a blog post outlining some of RIM's anticipated announcements for this developer conference.

There are over 28 million active BlackBerry Messenger users, RIM said in a press briefing, and the rate of new user adoption is growing at 1.5 million new users per month. Opening up BlackBerry Messenger to new developers will give the signature service a new lease on life. But will it be enough to give RIM greater credibility with new users in an era of Android and iPhone ascendancy? It sure can't hurt.