As part of BlackBerry’s push to attract more people to BBM, troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd. on Tuesday officially began rolling out its own social network, BBM Channels, a Twitter-like service that’ll allow companies and celebrities to directly engage with fans.
The service—which will be available first to BlackBerry users—will soon be preinstalled on some Android devices across Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The moves come as BlackBerry’s interim chief executive, John Chen, spearheads a reorganization at the Waterloo, Ontario, company that includes the recently announced departure of three key executives and a longtime board member. Mr. Chen, who took the helm this month after BlackBerry scrapped a plan to sell itself, has provided few new details about how his vision for the company will differ from his predecessor’s.
With over 80 million people using BBM everyday, BlackBerry has designed Channels to generate revenue from the messaging service, which currently doesn’t have ads. BlackBerry opened up the proprietary BBM to iPhone and Android users in October. The two competing platforms currently have around 20 million BBM users between them, according to recent data.
By beefing up the BBM experience, BlackBerry is attempting to leverage one of its most valuable assets. The company for years allegedly considered releasing its messaging service on competing platforms, but didn’t make the move official until after enduring a less than stellar few years; its handful of devices and new mobile OS haven’t exactly lit the market on fire.