BGR is reporting that Research In Motion is planning to release BlackBerry Messenger for the Android platform, a move that will eventually be followed by an iOS version. RIM is still sketching out the strategy regarding the pricing of the messenger. One option is to offer the messenger as a free/paid app on Android and iPhone devices. However, RIM is also mulling over a possibility to charge a monthly subscription fee for the app and its associated service.
It looks like RIM might have been arm twisted into making this move as a result of the growing popularity of Kik that is essentially a clone of BBM in every sense of the word. RIM blocked Kik from BlackBerry devices, but Android and iPhone users can still use it to experience the same communication experience that for so long was reserved for BlackBerry devices. So for RIM it was about letting users other platforms have the same app owned by someone else vs letting them have their app. According to BGR:
It might seem a bit strange for RIM to want to bring the software that is responsible for keeping BlackBerry devices in the hands of countless potential defectors, but in the big picture, we think it could make sense. The company is getting very frustrated with applications like WhatsApp and Kik offering third-party experiences based on a concept RIM invented, and RIM apparently wants to own the space.
Having said all this, RIM’s plan is to offer the BBM as kind of a freemium app – whereby users on Android and iPhone will only have access to a stripped down version of the BlackBerry Messenger that would allow them to communicate with each other via text messages. However, they wont be able to share photos or videos. In order to access these features, users would still have to buy the BlackBerry devices.
Clever as it may sound, I still believe that this strategy wont cut it – as users may opt for Kik to have the complete feature set, instead of giving up on their iPhones or Androids.