BBM's popularity on Android and iOS since going cross-platform over the summer has surprised more than a few people, and now BlackBerry has announced the next phase of its messaging service's expansion.
It has rolled out the FaceBook Pages-style BBM Channels service – in open beta form initially – allowing users to interact with their favourite brands and businesses, and communicate with other like-minded users.
We first heard about BBM Channels back in May, when BlackBerry announced its existence alongside plans to launch BBM for Android and iOS over the summer.
The idea of Channels is to form direct lines of communication between users and businesses, allowing them to like, share and comment on content posted on a Channel, and facilitating the possibility of one-to-one chat sessions with the owner or manager of the page.
A lot has changed at BlackBerry since May, of course, yet BBM's better-than-expected reception on rival platforms has been a real positive for the company going forward, and BlackBerry is clearly determined to make the most of it.
BBM Channels has actually been available in limited beta form since shortly after its initial announcement, but it's now been opened up to all handsets running BlackBerry OS 5 or later and will be included as part of the latest BBM update in BlackBerry World.
That's right – Channels isn't hitting the wider BBM ecosystem just yet, but the company promises that'll change “in the coming months”.
In the meantime, though, BlackBerry says it has signed deals with a number of budget Android device makers to pre-load BBM onto several upcoming handsets.
We're talking mainly about developing markets in Asia, South America and the Middle East, with BlackBerry no doubt reasoning that they'll prove easier to penetrate than more mature markets where BBM's rivals have already entrenched themselves.