RIM Scraps Idea of Licensing Out BBM to iOS and Android

For as long as I can remember –  and as long as BBM has been popular –  there has always been the lingering question if the famed proprietary, secure, and most of all fast, BlackBerry messaging system would ever see the UI of a different OS eco-system. Many have argued that it would be the worst thing RIM could ever do, causing over-saturation or, worse, would pull people away from using the BlackBerry OS entirely; while others ‘think’ completing the port could very well be RIM’s saving grace. Regardless, a clear answer was never given, not even at recently passed BlackBerry world in Orlando. 

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins would only go on record saying, “Licensing of ANY part of the BlackBerry OS would only happen once RIM has proven that BB10 is actually as special as they say”.

BBM currently has over 55 million users and a recent report in the WSJ suggests that RIM was potentially seeking to license the messaging service to other manufacturers and carriers under the codename “SMS2.0”. The reasoning for this was to not only generate revenue for the fledgling tech giant, but also to take on the other players in the cross-platform instant messaging game like Whatsapp, Kik, Hookt, etc.

As mentioned previously in this post, the rumors of a port have been flying around for years, some creative minds going as far as creating unconfirmed mock-ups showing the notorious BBM icon as a widget on an un-identified Android device.

Sadly, this post is confirming only what many don’t want to officially accept: BBM will likely not be ported over to Android or iOS.

Word has it, from a source familiar with the topic, that during the transition from Mike and Jim as co-CEOs to Thorsten Heins, one of Mr. Heins’ first orders of business was to completely shut down any and all talks of a BBM-licensing agreement. It wasn’t even up for discussion. Thorsten did not, however, shut down talks of licensing out other parts of the BlackBerry 10 OS, the make-or-break OS update scheduled to launch later this year.

At the end of the day, I really don’t think BBM is as important (to consumers) as it used to be. With the release of Apple’s iMessage, and the plethora of other usable free apps, I feel as though users are slowly willing to accept taking the plunge and leaving BlackBerry/BBM for more stable, user-friendly, app-centric pastures. I for one can attest that my BBM contact list as dropped significantly in the recent months. I’ve gone from several hundred active contacts, to 150 sporadic users.

What do you think? Are you a recent iMessage-convert? Miss BBM? Leave a comment weighing your thoughts.

Info sourced from The Wall Street Journal