We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

BlackBerry reportedly plans spin-off of instant messaging software

BlackBerry is taking steps to spin off its BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging software as a separate company, as it continues to explore a range of "strategic alternatives" after its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones have achieved only modest sales.

The company is creating a subsidiary, to be called BBM, Inc., transferring some executives to the new unit, and working on adding tools and features to the offering, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, by Will Connors, who cites as his sources "people familiar with the matter."

[RELATED:The Best BlackBerry 10 Apps]

The move comes as the Waterloo, Ontario, company prepares to release BBM for the first time as an application for other smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, later this summer. Currently, the messaging application has about 60 million users among the BlackBerry faithful.

Earlier this month, BlackBerry's board created a subcommittee to explore "strategic alternatives," including the possibility of selling all or parts of the company. [See "BlackBerry's bleak options: Will suitors really pay for a wedding?"]

A successful spin-off a key BlackBerry application, especially if it can gain traction in the market, could make the company more attractive to potential buyers.

BBM's capabilities have been expanding for BlackBerry users. The basic messaging feature lets them send and receive text messages in seconds with up to 2,000 characters. BBM lets you know when your message is delivered and read. But users can also share photos, videos, voice notes and files up to 6MB; and quickly add other BBM contacts and create groups for multiple contacts at once.

More recently, BBM has added capabilities for video chat and voice conversations with BBM users over Wi-Fi. BBM Connected apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, let you make use of BBM chat features from within those apps.

But at least initially, iOS and Android users who download the BBM app will have only text messaging and some related features, not voice or video calling.

Despite its popularity among BlackBerry users, BBM is entering a highly competitive market, including both paid and free apps. WhatsApp, launched in 2009, claims 200 million active users. Other apps include Skype, Fring, and more recent entrants such as MessageMe and SnapChat.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: [email protected]

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.


IDG UK Sites

iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review: Apple takes on Samsung once again in smartphone...

IDG UK Sites

Just another opinion about Apple's new iPhone

IDG UK Sites

Intel Xeon E5 v3 Haswell processors review: we check out the fastest chips on the planet

IDG UK Sites

Apple Watch hands-on review | Apple Watch design, spec, features & UK pricing