Update: There’s reason to believe these screenshots could be fake.
Earlier this year a rumor started making the rounds that Research in Motion was preparing to launch BlackBerry Messenger apps for Android and iOS. On the one hand, this would open up the company’s popular instant messaging service to a much larger audience. On the other hand, it could hurt BlackBerry smartphone sales since right now BBM is pretty much a BlackBerry exclusive — if you want to chat with your friends on the service you need a BlackBerry device.
Now TechRadar received some leaked photos that give the rumor a little more credibility. They show BlackBerry Messenger on an Android phone.
The photos reportedly come from a RIM employee who says the app is still in testing, but that it could launch next year.
Research in Motion has been dealing with sluggish BlackBerry Tablet sales and declining smartphone sales as Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7 pick up steam. The company still makes solid communications devices, but BlackBerry is still a brand that’s most often associated with business users, while the smartphone and tablet market is largely catering to consumers these days.
While the company has made some strides in adding social features, a new touch-friendly interface, and powerful multimedia capabilities to its recent devices, most people don’t think of BlackBerry products as “fun.”
So perhaps porting BBM to Android and iOS makes good business sense: Maybe RIM’s days as a hardware vendor are limited. But if the company can port some of its more popular software applications to run on other platforms, there could be a market for RIM’s communication and business-oriented services on Android, iOS, and other mobile operating systems.