Rumor Mill: RIM may open BlackBerry Messenger to Android, iOS

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Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is considering bringing its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service to smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform and eventually Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, according to the blog Boy Genius Report.

The blog, citing multiple, unnamed sources, said RIM is still debating the business strategy for such a move. According to the report, RIM might make access to BBM service free, or it might charge a one-time or recurring fee to users who access it on other platforms. Additionally, the blog reported that BBM for Android and iOS users will be a stripped-down version of the service, and that only BlackBerry users will be able to get the full experience.

A RIM spokeswoman declined to comment.

Currently, BBM supports a wide array of functions, including direct device-to-device communications, chat capabilities, photo and video sharing, invitations, contact lists, user profiles, data transfer and app-specific communities. RIM jazzed up the service last summer with the release of the BlackBerry 6 platform by adding Social Feeds, which integrate BBM with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

RIM has long used BBM as a key differentiator for its platform, targeting it at both enterprise and consumer users. However, the service has come under pressure from similar applications like WhatsApp and Kik. Spreading BBM to additional platforms could allow RIM to expand its influence in social messaging.

This is not the first time RIM has been rumored to be eying other smartphone platforms. The company previously was rumored to be considering allowing its forthcoming PlayBook tablet to run Android apps.

For more:
- see this BGR post
- see this GigaOM post
- see this CNet article

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