Facebook Releases Messenger for BlackBerry, Now Shows Who’s Online With Top Friends First

Today Facebook released its Messenger standalone mobile messaging app for BlackBerry, and added several new features and languages to the existing iOS and Android versions. Users of all the versions of Facebook Messenger will now be able to see when a conversation partner is typing, view the online status of all their friends, and can quickly add their top friends to a new or ongoing thread. Many additional languages are also now supported for iOS and Android.

Now available in App World via Facebook’s About page, the BlackBerry version of the push notification and SMS app could become a competitor to RIM’s native BlackBerry Messenger service. With the feature additions Messenger now more closely approximates the web version of Facebook Chat, and surpasses the built-in Chat functionality of the primary Facebook mobile apps. Facebook Messenger can now better achieve its purpose of allowing low-friction, cross-platform instant messaging.

The initial release of Messenger in August gave users a way to communicate with Facebook friends and their phone contacts without having to decide what device or platform to route a message to. Friends without Facebook receive messages as SMS, those with the app receive push notifications, those online on the web version of Facebook receive Chats, and those offline receive Facebook Messages in their inbox.

However, users had to search for friends individually to determine their online status and add them to a conversation. There was no way to easily add friends they frequently Chatted with to a conversation. There was also no way to tell if someone else was typing a Message to you, leading people to cut each other off in mid-sentence. BlackBerry users couldn’t access the app and had to Chat using the primary Facebook app or SMS, leading some to stick to BBMing with their other BlackBerry-carrying friends.

Today’s update solves all these problems. When users go to start a conversation or add friends to an existing thread, they’ll first see a list of their closest friends and their online statuses — whether online on the web, on their mobile device, or offline. Below this, users see an alphabetical list of all their online friends, and can also search for offline friends. This means that if users just want to Chat but not with anyone in particular, they’ll see options of readily available friends, which could increase usage of the app.

In addition to new features, 22 new languages have been added to the Android versions, and 12 more have been added for iPhone. In September, Facebook also made the app available in the UK and Ireland.

According to AppData, the iOS and Android Messenger apps have been growing relatively steadily, but have still only reached 1-2% of the audience of the primary Facebook apps for those operating systems. Messenger for iOS has 530,000 daily active users and 1.9 million monthly active users compared to Facebook for iPhone’s 52.3 million DAU and 92.5 million MAU. Messenger for Android has 780,000 DAU and 1.6 million MAU compared to Facebook for Android’s 47.9 million DAU and 70.9 million MAU.

With BBM already ingrained in BlackBerry user behavior patterns, we expect Messenger for BlackBerry to achieve less than 1% of Facebook for BlackBerry’s 28.6 million DAU. Still, the ability to chat for free regardless of a friend’s device should be appealing to BBM users and could steal some of them away. Meanwhile, the new features should boost the DAU of the iOS and Android Messenger apps by making users more likely to choose them over the primary Facebook apps.