During BlackBerry's Live event in Florida today, the company announced that its popular BlackBerry Messenger service (a.k.a. BBM) will be heading to iOS and Android later this summer. The app will support cross-platform messaging, meaning that users on BlackBerry can talk with iOS and Android users with the BBM app.
The BBM app will support all iOS devices running iOS 6 and higher, as well as Android devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and higher. BlackBerry said that it would be bringing some of the same features of BBM over to iOS and Android, including groups functionality, as well as voice features and screen sharing in later releases.
BlackBerry also announced what they're calling BBM Channels, which is a new social feature for BBM that will allow companies and celebrities to create a fan page of sorts that BBM users can follow. Whenever a BBM Channel gets updated with new content, users who follow these pages will see notifications for the updates in BlackBerry Hub. Users will also be able to comment and share posts with friends, as well as the ability to create their own channels. In the simplest of terms, Channels is essentially BlackBerry's version of a social network.
Channels is still in beta, but the company is planning to update it several times until it will fully launch sometime this summer -- most likely in conjunction with the BBM launch for iOS and Android. It's still up in the air whether or not Channels will be the boost that BlackBerry needs to gain more users, but we'll certainly find out come this summer. The company already has 60 million BBM users, with 10 billion messages being sent every day. With the release of an iOS and Android version, those numbers should jump significantly.