Text addicts rejoice

Why do so many millions of people keep using BlackBerries when Android and iOS phones are, in most people's view, far superior? One reason is the built-in keyboard; some people are just given their phone by work. But one big reason is BlackBerry Messenger. The IM program, which links all BlackBerries together for instant chat, has proven as addictive in the last couple of years as BlackBerry's instant email delivery proved ten years ago. But unlike open IM systems like Facebook Chat or Windows Live Messenger, you've needed a BlackBerry to get on it.

But maybe not for much longer? Rumours sweeping the webosphere suggest that BlackBerry makers RIM are planning to bring BBM to iOS and Android phones as an app. We don't know yet whether the app would be free, need to be bought, or even carry a monthly subscription charge - though given Apple's recent decision to demand 30% of subscription charges on iOS, we doubt they'll go that route if they can avoid it. Why enrich a competitor?

Why are RIM doing this? Well, it's very interesting. On the one hand, broadening access to BBM removes one of the unique selling points of the BlackBerry. On the other, it gives RIM the chance to become the default app of choice for messaging on the new generation of smartphones, which is a pretty powerful position to be in. All we know is, if it happens, it'll be great for consumers. So fingers crossed this particular rumour turns out to be true.

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