BlackBerry’s BBM instant-messaging service will be updated to run on WiFi-only iOS devices like the iPad and iPod touch “within 24 hours” the company has confirmed. The new version follows BBM’s release for iOS and Android in late October for cellularly-enabled devices, with head of BBM Andrew Bocking confirming the imminent update to SlashGear today. The move will mean that owners of non-3G/4G iPad and iPod touch devices will be able to join the growing number of BBM users.
That number exceeded 10m downloads in the first 24 hours of BBM’s release, and while Bocking would not reveal any fresher statistics, said that the Canadian company had been “pleased” with the rates of adoption.
Given BBM’s popularity among young users, the expansion to WiFi-only iOS devices is likely to only encourage growth, however. In the UK and Canada, for instance, the availability of low-cost BlackBerry 7 phones on prepaid tariffs with bundled BBM access has been cited as a key factor in the continued usage of the messaging service, with the handsets often given as cost-effective gifts.
Similarly, WiFi-only iOS devices, the iPod touch particularly, are common gifts for parents looking to deliver Apple’s software without the commitment of a monthly cellphone plan.
BBM for iOS already works on iPads, as long as they are 3G/4G-enabled. The incoming update, however, will broaden that to the WiFi-only variants. One of BBM’s strengths, Bocking pointed out, was that BBM is not tied to a device’s phone number, which obviously WiFi-only iPads lack.
However, there’s still no sign of an iPad-specific BBM app, and in fact Bocking confirmed that BlackBerry does not currently have one in development. The market advantages of software designed specifically to take advantage of a larger screen, such as on the recently released iPad Air, is continuously being evaluated, Bocking told us, and will only be undertaken if BlackBerry sees it as being valuable to the platform in some way.