Research in Motion’s BlackBerry platform is still a major player in the smartphone arena, but its core users are in enterprise, government, and corporate markets where Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have proven to be major players in the consumer space. RIM has attempted to reach out to everyday smartphone users with more consumer- and media-oriented devices, and now come reports that RIM is considering opening it’s walled garden: according to Boy Genius Report, “multiple trusted sources” indicate RIM is considering making versions of its much-ballyhooed BlackBerry Messenger service available for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform.
BGR’s report indicates that RIM has not settled on pricing, availability, or many technical details of offerings. BlackBerry Messenger apps for other smartphone platforms may or may not be full-featured versions of the service; similarly, there’s no information on pricing: RIM might give the apps away for free, charge a nominal fee, or even charge a recurring fee for use.
BlackBerry Messenger has historically been one of RIM’s most successful offerings with consumers, offering secured communications in a format that seems to resonate with many users. However, the company has also been displeased with outfits like Kik (which it is suing) for making third-party implementations of the same concept. Although offering a version of BlackBerry Messenger for other platforms might seem to work against RIM (giving customers one less reason to buy a BlackBerry device), RIM might be seeing BlackBerry messenger as a loss leader and a way to persuade users on other smartphone platforms to try out BlackBerry devices. It might also help keep existing BlackBerry customers happy: if they can use BlackBerry Messenger to communicate with people using iPhones or Android devices, they’ll be that much more likely to stick with BlackBerry for their next phone.
The potential for BlackBerry Messenger on non-RIM platforms follows reports that RIM is considering enabling Android applications to run on its forthcoming PlayBook tablet.