Enterprise application developers have a new choice for secure messaging systems, thanks to today’s launch of BlackBerry’s BBM Enterprise SDK. As the name implies, the tool allows developers to embed a version of BlackBerry’s messaging technology inside their iOS and Android applications for secure communications between users.
The service, which was previously available in beta, is designed to let developers focus on building other parts of their apps and let BlackBerry handle their messaging infrastructure. For example, it allows Tundra Core Studios, a consultancy in the U.K., to insert messaging functionality in an app for a law firm. That’s only possible because of the security features in the Messenger SDK.
It’s a move by BlackBerry to leverage one of the company’s crown jewels to compete with Twilio and other companies that provide messaging services for developers. One of the key benefits of BlackBerry’s platform is that it offers a rich set of features like read receipts, message editing, retraction, and file sharing. Developers can also opt into adding voice and video chat using the platform.
Use of the SDK for just messaging costs $29 per user per year. Developers that want to use voice and video will have to pay $79 per user per year. That means it’s not a great fit for consumer applications that expect to go through a lot of user churn. However, developers that sell their applications with a longer license could more easily absorb the significant cost of BlackBerry’s messaging platform.
Today’s launch is a sign of the business shift that BlackBerry has undergone over the past several years. While it was once at the forefront of the smartphone market, the company ceded its leadership to iOS and Android. It’s trying to stage a turnaround by licensing its name for Android phones and making its software more broadly available to a wider variety of users.
Correction June 12, 2017: We previously said that BlackBerry launched Android phones as part of its turnaround. They license the brand to other equipment manufacturers. The story has been corrected to reflect that.