BlackBerry BBM API Coming Soon?

BlackBerry has had a busy week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company made a slew of announcements around its hardware and software businesses, including new smartphones and an expansion of BES 12's powers. For developers, however, the most interested nugget of information came from a Q&A.

BlackBerry hosted a press conference on Tuesday morning. At the end of the presentation, it opened up the floor to questions. One attendee asked whether or not BlackBerry might release an API for BBM, its messaging platform. 

"There is no reason we will not bring BBM API to developers," responded BlackBerry. Whoa. 

Despite the decline and near-death of BlackBerry's smartphone business, BBM is still going strong. BlackBerry opened up BBM to the Android and iOS platforms last year and saw a resurgence of interest in the app. Just today, the company said it has reached 100 million installs from Google Play alone. That's a lot of Android owners using BBM. Clearly, BBM users are a large and enticing target for developers. 

BlackBerry representatives on hand didn't say anything else about this potential API, however, nor when it might become a reality. Until it does, it is probably best to temper expectations. 

The company did make some concrete announcements. For example, it gave the BBM app for Android and iOS a massive update this week. The app now supports an ad-free experience and even allows users to customize their PIN. Group chats now support photo sharing and the Android version supports Android Wear notifications. 

It also announced the Leap smartphone, a new BlackBerry smartphone that resembles the Z10. It doesn’t have a keyboard and instead uses the touchscreen for typing. The phone has a 5-inch screen, 13-megapixel camera, and is compatible with Android apps. 

BlackBerry also said it will bring full BES 12 support to competing platforms Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Businesses will be able to use all the features of BES 12 to deploy and manage their corporate smartphones. That’s a pretty big deal. 

As for the BBM API, we’ll have to keep our ears to the ground and keep you posted.
 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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