Rumors have swirled for years now that RIM was considering offering its BlackBerry Messenger software and service on other platforms. Today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting not only that those rumors had some merit, but that the plans have been scuttled as CEO Thorsten Heins focuses the company on launching its first BlackBerry 10 smartphone. Apparently the plan to license BBM, called "SMS 2.0," was far enough along for RIM to even acquire a company called LiveProfile as a way to help the process along. However, shortly after becoming CEO, Heins quashed any talk of licensing the messaging platform. Ex-co-CEO Jim Balsillie left RIM last month, reportedly after his plans to expand RIM's services (including BBM) were shot down.
BBM remains one of RIM's stronger differentiators for users, who often feel that the service keeps them tied to the BlackBerry platform. It's also a key strategy for RIM in emerging markets, where the service is significantly cheaper than communicating via SMS. Various messaging services have appeared on other platforms in an attempt to unseat BBM, incluing iMessage on iOS and several others on Android, but none have captured the same amount of devotion that BBM used to inspire.
reportedly is not currently interested in spending precious time on licensing deals while the company pushes to finish BB10. As for possible future licensing deals for the BB10 OS as a whole, at BlackBerry World earlier this month Heins implied that he thinks in terms of market "segmentation" when considering partners — but again far from the first thing on his plate. Whatever the possible benefits of licensing BBM, being "here to win" requires focus, so RIM's move makes sense, at least in the short term.