It wouldn't be exactly earth-shattering to learn that BlackBerry plans to shift their core focus from hardware to software and services. After all, BlackBerry announced a few months back that its popular BBM messaging service would be coming to iOS and Android this summer -- a move that would effectively kill one of the company’s primary smartphone assets -- along with their Secure Work Space software.
The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the restructuring effort might involve separating the BBM program from BlackBerry altogether, allowing it to operate as an independent entity. This news comes just two weeks after the Canadian-based firm announced the hiring of a special committee to focus on “strategic alternatives”, which includes anything from partnerships to a complete sale of the company.
Prior to the emergence of other messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage, BBM was the main allure for users looking to avoid hefty text messaging fees. Unfortunately, this service hasn’t been enough to retain BlackBerry fans, and widening its customer base appears to be one of the few available options.
As of now, BBM is used by approximately 60 million individuals; however, cross-platform service WhatsApp dwarfs this number with an impressive 300 million users under its belt. By opening up its distribution channels to the 92% of smartphone users held by Apple and Google, there’s no reason the company couldn’t put up similar numbers.
"We think there is a great opportunity in bringing BBM to other platforms as people look for the right service to have even more engaged conversations on their smartphones," explained a BlackBerry spokesperson. "They are also looking for a simple, customizable interface and BBM brings that."
Despite BlackBerry’s struggles as of late, they still have pretty lofty goals. Not only do they want to overtake traditional messaging apps, but they want to be put on equal footing with major players such as Twitter and Skype. To meet these aspirations, BlackBerry has already begun to diversify their offerings by adding new capabilities such as video chatting. They also plan to unveil a new feature dubbed BBM Channels; a tool that will enable celebrities to connect with their fans, much like Twitter allows.
Needless to say, the company still has a long way to go before these dreams become reality.