BBM Channels, a micro-blogging service that has drawn comparisons to Twitter, is BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB)’s latest push to reenergize its brand, building on the continued success of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). While the current version works on recent BlackBerry phones, the service will be extended to iOS and Android soon, reports Barry Levine for CIO Today.

BlackBerry BBM Channels

Unlike Twitter, users choose scope of post’s transparency

BBM Channel messages will be restricted to 400 characters, and the display is similar to Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)’s, but the service gives users more control over how posts are shared, which could make it more useful for some business people. Social networks are fairly public by definition, but when someone posts on Twitter it really is for the whole world to see (assuming the world is interested). With BBM Channels, users can decide whether posts will be shared with contacts, the whole world, or specific groups. You can also lock comments, or make them subject to review.

BlackBerry faces increased pressure to deliver profit

While BBM Channels isn’t exactly the same as any of the big social network companies, there are so many of them (free services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; high end services like Bloomberg Terminal) that it’s entering into a crowded market, and many users might balk at joining yet another social network. There’s also the question of how a free app will bring the company back to profitability. Rising IT companies like Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are given a pass because they are growing rapidly, and investors believe that they will find a way to monetize their services effectively, even if it isn’t going to happen in the next few quarters. Investors have already soured on BlackBerry, so they will probably be more demanding of results.

Shifting focus to BBM seems like a smart move, though interim CEO John Chen has made it clear that BlackBerry will not stop producing its own phones, and the rollout of BBM Channels is in line with an earlier decision to make BBM available on the iPhone and iPad, instead of keeping it exclusive to BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) in an attempt to lock people in to the company’s handsets. There were 10 million downloads of the iOS version of BBM within the first day of its release, so the interest is certainly there. How the company is going to turn a profit is still unclear.