BlackBerry announced today that it will open up its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant-messaging program to iOS and Android users for free, with new clients coming for those platforms later this summer.
BBM will be compatible with iOS 6 and Android 4.0 when it debuts, the initial release will include multi-person chats, as well as the ability to share photos and voice notes.
“The time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service,” Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of Software Product Management and Ecosystem at BlackBerry said in a press release.
“BBM has always been one of the most engaging services for BlackBerry customers, enabling them to easily connect while maintaining a valued level of personal privacy. We’re excited to offer iOS and Android users the possibility to join the BBM community.”
Apple has its own proprietary messaging service known as iMessage. It allows users of Apple products — including iPhones, iPads and Macs — to chat with one another, but iMessage is not available on competing platforms like Android.
Features including voice, screen sharing and channels are planned for future BBM updates. BBM Channels will allow individuals and groups to create a dedicated channel and share information with followers, similar to Twitter.
According to BlackBerry, BBM has more than 60 million monthly active users, and more than 51 million of those people use BBM for an average of 90 minutes per day. BBM customers send and receive more than 10 billion messages each day.