The popular Blackberry Messenger (BBM) app will be offered as a download to run on devices running iOS and Android in the summer.
It’s thought that initially, the app will offer texts, MMS and group sharing, with further services such as voice and video calling to be rolled out at a later date. The app is expected to be free, both to download and use.
"As we’ve chronicled on our Inside BlackBerry blog for some time now, BBM set the standard for mobile instant messaging with fast and reliable service and an added layer of engagement with delivered and read statuses,” Blackberry’s Donny Halliwell said on the official blog.
"Upon release of the multi-platform BBM service, you can broaden that real-time connection to friends and colleagues on other supported mobile platforms.”
As well as voice note sharing, BBM users will be able to set up groups of up to 30 people and share calendars, photos, files and more. Currently BBM has more than 60m active monthly users and more than 51m daily active users who spend around one and a half hours per day using the app to connect with friends.
Blackberry has also announced "a new social engagement platform”, BBM Channels, which will allow users to connect with businesses and brands.
Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President, Software Product Management and Ecosystem, at BlackBerry said: "For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service.”
"BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.”
Whilst BBM has always been popular amongst teens and business users, there’s no guarantee that the app will work out cross platform. Whatsapp is planning to introduce voice calls and Google is thought to be working on a similar messaging service.
However, during their recent financial struggles, it has been said that BBM is the most valuable aspect to the Canadian company. Saying that, it’s unclear whether the move will have any impact on Blackberry hardware sales, which continue to struggle to compete with other devices on the market.
A new mobile, the Q5, is due to be released in July and will be powered by the BB10 system. It’s thought that the device targets emerging markets and will initially be available in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
"The Q5 could be a very significant device for the company because there is a significant opportunity for high-quality low-cost smartphones," said Adam Leach, devices analyst at telecoms consultancy Ovum.