BlackBerry struck deals with 12 handset makers for its BBM messaging app to be pre-installed on Android devices sold across Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East.
From December, smartphones from Be, Brightstar, Celkon, EVERCOSS, IMO, Micromax, Mito, Snexian, Spice, TECNO, TiPhone and Zen will include BBM, promoting the service in potentially lucrative emerging markets.
Athough the device makers are not among the biggest names in mobile, they have a significant presence in the markets in which they operate.
“BBM is extremely popular in Africa and we know our customers will appreciate the ability to quickly access BBM on their TECNO devices and start connecting with friends and family,” said Jason Liu, marketing director of TECNO.
Giving BBM a presence on handsets ‘out-of-the-box’ is the latest move by BlackBerry to make the once proprietary messaging service as ubiquitous as possible. Today’s news will prompt speculation as to whether it will be able to pre-install the service on devices from tier one vendors.
BlackBerry also confirmed BBM for Android will remain free to download from Google Play. Andrew Bocking, executive VP of BBM, previously said BlackBerry would monetise BBM through advertising and forthcoming features such as social networking service BBM Channels.
The ailing smartphone and services company said it plans to continue to evolve the Android and iOS versions of BBM by adding support for BBM Channels as well as voice and video calling.
Launched for Android and iOS towards the end of October, BBM was downloaded 20 million times during its first week of availability for the platforms. It performed particularly strongly in Canada, the US, UK, Indonesia and the Middle East.
However, BlackBerry is now looking to measure user engagement, such as conversations and connections being made on the service, Bocking noted.