Yesterday saw BlackBerry unveil its latest smartphone, the keyboard-toting Q5, but there were also some interesting developments with its BBM messaging service. Under threat from cross-platform apps like WhatsApp and Kik Messenger, BBM is finally expanding beyond BlackBerry, with plans to launch on iOS and Android this summer. “For BlackBerry, messaging and collaboration are inseparable from the mobile experience, and the time is definitely right for BBM to become a multi-platform mobile service,” said BlackBerry’s Andrew Booking at the BlackBerry Live conference. BBM currently has 51m daily active users sending and receiving more than 10bn messages a day, but will be hoping for more growth by dropping the single-platform focus. Also interesting: something new called BBM Channels, which enables brands, artists and celebrities to create their own channels on BBM, posting updates and enabling fans to subscribe, while monitoring the analytics. It’s available now in beta for BlackBerry smartphones, and should make its way into the iOS and Android apps when they launch. It’s worth investigating, especially for artists with young BBM-mad fanbases.

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