RIM's BlackBerry Messenger Develops Social Powers

Research In Motion on Monday announced the new BlackBerry Messenger social networking platform. With it, developers will be able to include BBM functions and features on their web sites and applications.
At RIM's annual developer conference in San Francisco, it debuted a new social element to its much-loved BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging application. The new features are meant to allow BBM users to more easily share information, links and other data via RIM's dedicated service.

With the new BlackBerry Messenger Social Platform, developers can build applications that interface with BBM, allowing users to connect with one another in a different and richer way.

RIM says the following functions are available to developers:

  • Contact list – allows users to choose from their BBM contacts from within another application in order to initiate social interactions such as chatting or initiating game play
  • BBM user profile – an application can insert application status updates into the user's BBM profile allowing it to be launched or downloaded from BBM by the user’s friends
  • Application-specific communities – users can create BBM friend groups specific to an application
  • Data Transfer – allows users to transfer pictures, audio, video and other content directly from an application to their BBM contacts or groups
  • Invitations – allows users to invite new friends to BBM, invite their friends to interact within or download an application, and accept invitations, all from within an application
RIM believes that by offering developers this tools, it will spur creativity and create more interest in developing for the BlackBerry platform. Many of RIM's partners on-hand in San Francisco, agree.

"The integration of BBM functionality into our leading sports app will be a game-changer for ScoreMobile," says Benjie Levy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Score Media Inc. "We expect that embedding key BBM features will deepen user engagement, lengthen visit sessions, and help virally grow ScoreMobile’s user base."

There are lots of unknowns, however. RIM hasn't shared any information on how this will work, what it will look like, when it will be available. Without even a single screen shot to see how it works, its not easy to assess how this will be adopted by by users.

This also begs the question, do mobile users want -- or need -- another social network. We already have Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare, Gowalla, and many, many, others.

Granted, RIM's BBM platform is extremely popular. More than tie BBM with outside sites and services, RIM needs to make it more seamless with BlackBerry App World. That would be an exciting story to sell to developers, and one which RIM hasn't touched upon.

"The BlackBerry developer community has been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to integrate BlackBerry Messenger with their apps. BBM is a very popular service with over 28 million users and opening its real-time social connectivity to third party applications presents incredible opportunities," said Alan Brenner, Senior Vice President, BlackBerry Platform at Research In Motion in a prepared statement. "Access to BBM services from within apps will revolutionize gaming, enhance multimedia experiences, and add a new dimension to location based applications."


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