21 May Blackberry Unveils Low-Cost Handset, BBM Coming To Android and iOS
Blackberry’s been busy.
At the company’s BlackBerry Live 2013 event last Tuesday in Orlando, the handset maker unveiled not only a new handset, but also announced that they’re making their Blackberry Messenger service (BBM) available on iOS and Android AND they’re launching their very own social network.
Low- Cost Q5 Smartphone
Like the higher end Q10, which Blackberry launched earlier in the year, the Q5 will feature a classic QWERTY keyboard and a 3.1 inch touchscreen. While the Q10 and the Q5 share the same screen size, the Q10 features an OLED display which offers more vivid colours.
In terms of tech specs, the Q5 differs only marginally from the Q10. Both have 2 GB of working memory, with the Q5 only offering 8GB flash memory compared to the Q10’s 16GB. Both have 2 megapixel front-facing camera, but the Q5’s rear-facing camera is only 5 megapixels compared with the Q10’s 8 megapixels which also supports high definition video recording.
Thorsten Heins, Blackberry’s CEO, said the “slim, sleek” device will be available in red, black, white and pink. While pricing has not yet been confirmed, the Q5 will be available in selected countries, including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including the Asia Pacific region) and Latin America in July.
BBM on Android and iOS
Blackberry’s trademark instant messaging service, Blackberry Messenger (BBM) is coming to Android and iOS later this year.
BBM set the original standard for mobile messaging and collaboration, through its secure messaging service that showed whether the message had been delivered (D) or read (R). In its heyday, BBM surpassed standard SMS text messages, and was the envy of users on other mobile platforms.
While it may no longer have the same luster as it once did (although it does apparently boast 60 million users worldwide at present) , with other mobile platforms such as Apple’s iOS offering its own messaging service (iMessage), and a host of third party app developers coming up with their own messaging apps (e.g. Viber, WhatsApp etc), the move is theoretically a good one. According to Colin Gillis, an analyst at BC Partners, offering BBM on rival platforms is a good move because closed ecosystems don’t work anymore (via Brisbane Times). “It’s time to bring BBM to a greater audience,” Heins said. “I cannot wait for the day when all of our BlackBerry fans can send BBM invites to all their friends on other platforms. They have asked us for this for years.” Whether this gamble will pay off for Blackberry remains to be seen.
The first iteration of BB, for Android and iOS is expected to feature multi-person chats, voice note sharing and groups where BBM users can share calendars, photo and files with up to 30 fellow users. By the end of the year, those using BBM on Android and iOS will be able to make voice and video calls on BBM aswell. When this rolls around, the Android and iOS versions of BBM will have “feature parity” with the Blackberry version according to Heins.
Heins stated that the iPhone and Android versions of BBM will be available for free pending approval by Google Play and the App Store.
Blackberry’s Own Social Network
Referred to as BBM Channels, Blackberry also announced the beta launch of their very own social network.
BBM Channels, as indicated by the name, builds on its BBM platform and essentially allows brands and celebrities to set up channels that BBM users can subscribe to. The platform already has a few high profile takers, among them the Goo Goo Dolls, Alicia Keys, and Mercedes Benz.
The official word from Blackberry on BBM Channels is that it is “a new social engagement platform within BBM that will allow people to connect with the businesses, brands, celebrities and groups they are passionate about.”
The company’s developers plan to roll out updates to BBM Channels every 2-4 weeks and the service will launch publicly in the coming months, which will coincide with the company’s launch of BBM as a free app on iOS and Android. BBM Channels will be included as part of the BBM app for iOS and Android.