Today at the BlackBerry Developer Conference, RIM announced that they will be opening up some developer options in BlackBerry Messenger, their handheld-only instant messaging client. By tying applications to BBM, developers will be able to take advantage of the chat, contacts, profiles, file transfer, groups, and invitation functions offered. One example included was multiplayer gaming, where one could use BBM to chat and invite other players into a game. Applications could also create custom community chat groups, as well as enable sharing through an app to BBM contacts.
For many people, BBM is the primary reason they use a BlackBerry. Its tight integration with the native messages app, delivery notices, and group functions make it a very useful communication tool for groups who are already using BlackBerry. BBM has been one of many points of security concern lately, but seems like most of that is being taken care of. Of course, BBM is limited to BlackBerry users only, but the more RIM adds features like these developer tools, the more BBM’s exclusivity works to their advantage rather than detriment.
What else developers do with these tools remains to be seen, but personally, I would like to see mobile music services like Slacker and Pandora have the ability to change BBM status messages, much like how the native media player already lets you show what you’re listening to. RIM hasn’t given any timeline for the software development kit, other than “soon.” Kik is one such music service that participated in the early beta program, and they have a lot hope for BBM Social’s ability to help them share music among friends.
If you’re eager to get BBM Social-enabled apps, it’ll be going live in spring 2011.