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BlackBerry Brings Video Calls To BBM Users Over Android And iOS In Select Countries

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Continuing with its drive to take its service on par with the best out there, BlackBerry has announced its intentions of taking the video-call feature in the BBM messaging app to all major platforms. The feature, which saw a fanfare-less beta release on Android last week, has now come to iOS as well.

The company has however, decided to limit the availability of the service to Canada and the US for now. A global release for the same will come after July, giving it ample time to monitor performance, gather feedback, and iron out any bugs and issues with the service.

Speaking on the topic, Matthew Talbot, Senior Vice President – Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry said,

We’re thrilled to announce that video is almost ready for primetime; today we’ve launched it as a beta feature for Android, as part of the latest version of BBM. Update your BBM today to get it. Video calling for iPhone and iPad users is also coming also available!

The above is an excerpt from a week old blog post while the part in bold is from a more recent update.

The service is available upon Android 4.4 and  iOS 8 and above device. What’s more, no additional sign-up as such is required to start upon video calls.

There’s no sign-up or approval required to use the feature. When you tap the icon to initiate a call with one of your BBM contacts, BBM will ask whether you want to make a voice call or try a video call with the beta feature (provided your contact is also eligible to participate).

The move marks yet another step in BlackBerry’s drive of taking it’s services to other platforms. The company, which operated what used to be one of the most closed-door ecosystems out there, is opening up in face of increasing competition and a market share that has dropped to below 1 percent.

The company recently dropped its closed door strategy, launching an Android device — with more expected to follow this year — and launching several BlackBerry-ecosystem-only applications to other platforms.

Speaking upon the move to introduce video calling, Talbot said,

What’s driving the enthusiasm? Simple: mobile video conferencing is now a reality. Globally, mobile bandwidth is increasing with the rollout of 4G networks, and devices now have the cameras, software and power that make it possible. Sure, there are some scenarios where good, old-fashioned voice is the better solution. But increasingly, video is taking over as our no. 1 communication technology.

The above while correct, seems to have taken a long time to strike the folks at BlackBerry. Let alone dedicated applications like Skype, multiple messaging applications worth their name — such as Facebook messenger and Google Hangouts — have had  the video calling feature since ages.

That said, BlackBerry is probably not hoping to win many new BBM fans solely with this addition. What the company may actually be looking for is more satisfaction — and hence more reasons for ensuring their loyalty — to the existing BBM users. Another advantage of this addition is the fact that it finally brings the BBM service on an even footing with the competition out there, many of whom have already sported the feature since some time.

Meanwhile, BBM users whether on BlackBerry’s own OS or on Android or iOS, now have a brand new BBM feature to play around with. It’s also good to see that BlackBerry’s promise of opening up its ecosystem and making it more friendly was not a one-off and the company seems to be making continuous efforts in that direction.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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