RIM to keep BBM exclusive to BlackBerry devices, WSJ says

Rumors have been going around for years now that RIM was considering offering its software and BlackBerry Messenger service on other platforms. Today the the Wall Street newspaper Not only reports that these rumors had some merit, but that plans were scuttled as CEO Thorsten Heins focuses the company on launching its first BlackBerry 10 smartphone. Apparently, the BBM licensing scheme, called “SMS 2.0”, was advanced enough that RIM could even acquire a company called LiveProfile to ease the process. However, soon after becoming CEO, Heins canceled any discussions about licensing the messaging platform. Former co-CEO Jim Balsillie left RIM last month, apparently after his plans to expand RIM’s services (including BBM) were shot.

BBM remains one of RIM’s strongest differentiators for users, who often feel like the service keeps them tied to the BlackBerry platform. It is also a key strategy for RIM in emerging markets, where the service is significantly cheaper than communication by SMS. Various messaging services have popped up on other platforms in an attempt to overthrow BBM, including iMessage on iOS and several others on Android, but none have captured the same amount of devotion BBM used to inspire.

would currently not be interested in spending valuable time on licensing deals as the company works to complete BB10. Regarding possible future licensing deals for the BB10 operating system as a whole, at BlackBerry World earlier this month, Heins hinted he was thinking in terms of “segmentation” of the market when he envisioned partners – but again far from the first thing on his plate. Whatever the possible benefits of the BBM license, being “here to win” requires focus, so RIM’s decision makes sense, at least in the short term.

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