Mobile

BlackBerry may spin off Messenger, its one great product, as it weighs future

The BlackBerry Q10 smartphone at the BB10 launch.

Above: The BlackBerry Q10 smartphone at the BB10 launch.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

As the rest of BlackBerry falls apart, the company may consider spinning off its popular Messenger product as a separate firm, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In May, BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins surprised the technology world by announcing that the company would bring BlackBerry Messenger to the iPhone and Android this summer. “We will make BBM available as the premiere multi-platform IM solution all around the globe,” he said at the time.

But aside from a cute demo to let iPhone and Android users test out the BBM experience in their web browsers, we haven’t seen much progress in bringing the messaging service cross-platform.

The company clearly has bigger issues to deal with: A few weeks ago BlackBerry announced that it will explore “strategic alternatives” for its business, which could include partnering with, or being acquired by, another company. Spinning off BBM as another firm is likely one of the many options BlackBerry has considered for some time — it’s a product with great brand recognition, and it has more than 60 million users so far.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the spinoff company will likely be called BBM Inc. The paper claims BlackBerry has been moving executives into its messaging team, and it’s working on adding features like video chat.

Looking back at Heins’ comments from May, when he initially announced the BBM cross-platform news, it’s striking how different his attitude was about the company’s standing.

“Why are we doing this now? It’s a statement of confidence,” he said. “The BlackBerry 10 platform is so strong and support has been so good that the time is right for BBM to become an independent messaging solution.”


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