BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has received numerous requests for its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) from users of devices powered by the Android Gingerbread operating system (v2.3.3+)

BlackBerry BBM

The Canadian smartphone manufacturer discovered that a great number of users are still using Android Gingerbread, even if it’s an older version of the operating system Based on the recent Android Developer Dashboard, Gingerbread accounts 21% of the total Android platform.

Today, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) decided to try and capture these millions of users, and announced that BBM will soon be available on devices powered by Android Gingerbread.

BBM external beta moving ahead of February launch

In a blog post, Jeff Gadway, head of product and brand marketing of BBM, wrote, “The team at BBM has been busy in the kitchen over the last few months cooking up this special release of BBM for Android smartphones running Gingerbread.”

According to him, the BBM team is moving into an external beta of the app ahead of the launch in February. Gadway added, “We couldn’t be more excited, too! Supporting Gingerbread will allow millions more Android users to download the popular BBM instant messaging app.”

BBM emerged as leading free app

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) launched the BBM on iPhone and Android devices in October last year. The instant messaging app has proven popular given the fact that 20 million Android and iPhone users downloaded it within one week after launching. BBM beats rivals in the messaging apps arena in terms of user engagement.

In November, last year, BBM executive vice president Andrew Bocking said that the app has 80 million monthly active users (MAUs) across Android, BlackBerry and iPhone devices. BBM has emerged as the leading free app in 35 countries on Google Play and in 107 countries on AppStoreSM.

New BBM Features

Last month, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) announced new features added to the instant messaging app including BBM Voice for Android and iPhone, which provides a free voice calls to any BBM contact worldwide; and the BBM Channel for iPhone and Android, which allows users to join the conversation within the BBM community beyond their contact list.

The Canadian smartphone manufacturer also added more emoticons and a feature that would allow easier and faster sharing from photos to voice notes and more.