Is BBM coming out on the iPhone? When? Why? How much?

Is the BlackBerry messaging service really going to be available on the iPhone?

If you are trying to decide whether to buy a new iPhone 5, or wait for the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, or buy one of those other smartphones, one of the factors affecting your decision may be whether the BBM instant messaging service from BlackBerry will be available on the iPhone. If it is, you've come to the right place.

Is BBM coming out on the iPhone?

I was recently asked this question and my reaction was that there was no way that BlackBerry would be making BBM available for the iPhone. Well it looks like I was wrong.

Back in May BlackBerry announced that it would make the popular BBM service available to iPhone (and Android) users. BlackBerry seems to have decided that if you can't beat them you might as well join them.

When is BBM coming to iPhone?

When it made the announcement that BBM would be made available for iPhone, BlackBerry said that it would be available "this summer" in the US. That timing is "subject to approval by the Apple Store". Our best guess is spring in Australia, although it's possible that Apple will not approve the BBM app, ever.

Will Apple allow BBM on the iPhone?

While Apple isn't supposed to allow any bias into which apps it approves for the App Store it is possible that the company will refuse to approve BBM, claiming that it tries to replace the functionality of Apple's Messages.

In 2009 Apple got into trouble with the FFC when it was accused of using bias when it was accused of rejecting the Google Voice app from the App Store. The company published a statement on its website claiming that it had not rejected Google Voice but confirming that Google Voice had not been approved because: "It appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."

The company could draw a similar comparison between BBM and Apple's own messaging service.

However, it is an unlikely scenario because Apple has already approve the popular WhatsApp Messenger app, which already has 100 million users, according to that company.

How much will BBM for iPhone cost?

BlackBerry says that the BBM app will be free.

Why is BlackBerry bringing BBM to the iPhone

It is likely that this is BlackBerry's attempt to retain the customers it still has by giving them the ability to communicate with the ever-growing pool of non-BlackBerry users within their preferred messaging app.

Will BBM on the iPhone be the same as the BlackBerry service?

BBM will initially offer text messaging only for the iOS and Android operating systems, with features such as voice and video and screen sharing coming later in 2013. The company announced that a BBM feature called channels will allow Twitter-like functionality.

It is likely that the BlackBerry phones will have an enhanced BBM service compared to the iOS and Android versions.

What's the best messaging app for iPhone?

There are a number of options if you want to send messages to your friends from your iPhone. Apple's phone comes with its own Messages app already installed, and this allows you to send messages for free over a data connection or Wi-Fi, however these free messages can only be sent to other iOS users, so a number of other apps have appeared making it possible to send free messages to other platforms. We round up some of the options below.

Messages

Price: Free

Messages comes preinstalled on your iPhone and with it, iMessage, a free service that lets your send messages via Wi-FI or a 3G data service. You can send group iMessages to other iOS users and iMessages can also be received on your iPad and Mac.

WhatsApp Messenger

Price: $0.99 (used to be free)

WhatsApp is Apple's number one paid app so there is no doubt that it is popular. It's a cross-platform smartphone messenger that sends messages over Wi-Fi and 3G, much like iMessage. The app used to be free but now it costs 99 cents. The one issue is that the message won't be sent if you have no data connection — iMessage would use SMS to send the message in that case.

Facebook

Price: Free

Most people have Facebook installed on their phone so using the Messages service is an easy way to contact your friends. You can get messages, chats and texts and see your message history.

Skype

Price: Free

As well as letting you place free video calls Skype has an instant messaging service. However you need Skype Credit or a subscription to the service.

Kik Messenger

Price: Free

Kik Messenger lets you send notes to other Kik users on multiple platforms. It doesn't have all the features of WhatsApp but it does have some interactive features that make it easy to access YouTube videos and memes.

Snapchat

Price: Free

Snapchat isn't a text messaging service, it allows users to share pictures, and it's incredibly popular. Pictures are sent via Snapchat 'self destruct' shortly after being opened. This means that they will only be visible for a few seconds, the recipient can't even take a screen grab of said image.

BBM

Price: Free

COMING SOON

As for BBM. We know that the BlackBerry BBM messaging service was used in the UK summer riots of 2011, with rioters using the secure communications network to share information about where looters were, safe routes home, and avoiding the police. So it has already proven popular with one market at least.

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Tags iPadsmartphonesBlackberrytabletsAppleiPhonehardware systemsconsumer electronics

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Karen Haslam

Macworld U.K.
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