We won’t be seeing the popular BlackBerry Messenger service coming to our iOS or Android phones anytime soon, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. While RIM was once heavily considering licensing its Messenger service to other manufacturers as a way to bring in some extra cash, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has indicated that RIM’s main focus for the next several months will be BlackBerry 10, the operating system RIM hopes will compete with the juggernauts of Android and iOS.
RIM’s fall from grace has been very drastic and very public over the last 5 years or so. They once garnered over 50% of the smartphone market, a number that has since shrunk to less than 15% according to recent surveys. RIM failed to embrace the trend towards bigger-screened, touch-based smartphones after the iPhone was launched in 2007, though early reports of their upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform shows signs of promise. Before those rumors go any further, RIM also indicated that it plans to keep BlackBerry 10 in-house, and will not be licensing the BlackBerry operating system for other manufacturers to produce BlackBerry OS devices.
For RIM to succeed in the smartphone market that left it behind, it will need to come up with truly innovative products both on the hardware and software side that either gather new smartphone owners en masse, or pull away customers from Android and iOS (or, both). The next 12 months or so will be a trying time for RIM, as BlackBerry 10 will be competing against whatever Google and Apple come out with next in their Jelly Bean and iOS 6 platforms, respectively.
We’d still like to see RIM license BlackBerry Messenger at some point. The service is widely heralded as a secure and intuitive messaging platform, and is one of the most oft-cited reasons people give when I ask them why they are still carrying a BlackBerry. That said, if they do license BlackBerry Messenger, they risk losing that differentiating factor that might give them future success in the smartphone market.
Whatever happens over the next year, it’ll be an interesting and perhaps challenging time for the ailing RIM as they look to emerge as a true third alternative to the runaway successes of Android and iOS.
[via The Wall Street Journal]