After months of rumors and speculation, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is finally making its messaging service BBM available on the Samsung Galaxy Phones, but only if you live in Africa, reports Brian Bennet at CNET.
While the geographic restriction is a surprise, expanding the BBM app to an Android device has been in the works for some time. BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) stocks have plummeted over the last few years and plenty of people are still waiting for the company to go out of business. After this year’s newest models the Q10 and Z10 bombed, BlackBerry has been in a frenzy to find new ways to increase revenues, including a hard push into India and the possibility of selling phones at cost.
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Blackberry BBM still the messaging service of choice
But no matter what else has gone wrong, many people still say that BBM is the best messaging service around, and making it available to Android users is a natural way for BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) to expand its revenue base, which is why the restriction to Africa is so perplexing. The African mobile market is almost entirely centered on cheap disposable phones and prepaid calling plans. Wealthy elites can afford expensive smart phones and tablets, but that’s a pretty small market, and outside of South Africa and a few other urban hubs, there isn’t much middle class to speak of.
BlackBerry possibly testing BBM in smaller African market
In the long run the plan is to roll out BBM service to Samsung customers worldwide, so it could be that the smaller customer base in Africa was seen as a benefit while the two companies work out any logistic or technical problems, but it could also be that BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) still has hopes of regaining market share in other regions. BBM is by far the biggest argument in favor of buying a BlackBerry, and releasing it to Android users renders it moot.
Few people doubt that BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) is going to change radically if it’s going to survive, and this could be the first step of that transformation. Early reviews of the BB10 have been positive, even if it seem unlikely that the new operating system will be able to compete with either Apple iOS or Android. Still it wouldn’t be too surprising if future BlackBerry users wonder why the company once made its own phones, instead of focusing on its core business of software development with BBM as its flagship product.