Can BBM Beat Skype With New Voice Calling and Channels?

Look out Skype, it looks as if BlackBerry is trying to eat into your market share with the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). A new version of the messaging client has landed on iOS and Android, and it's packed full of new goodies including free voice calling to other BBM users over a wireless connection.

In addition to the free calling, the new BBM also introduces BBM Channels. These are active, real conversations between people, brands and communities. BBM users can create their own channel or subscribe to existing channels to chat away with others sharing similar interests.

"Customers can join channels about a range of topics from products, hobbies and sports to entertainment, fashion, cars and more. Channels can be created by brands, businesses and BBM customers alike and are a great way to communicate directly and immediately with people," the company explains.

Seemingly taking cues from IRC, channel owners control the conversations. They can allow subscribers to post freely on the channel, or approve messages first before they go live. Channel owners can also interact with subscribers without having to hand out their personal details, or adding channel visitors as a BBM contact.

Channel owners can schedule specific times to allow BBM customers to have live chats with the channel owner. All BBM customers will receive a notification the moment one of the channels they follow has a new post, or when someone responds to their comments.

In addition to the new Channels feature, BBM provides location sharing (powered by Glympse) so that customers can share their real-time location with one or several BBM users. Customers can specify how long they want to share their location by setting a timer.

"We've all been in situations where we're running late, meeting up with friends, or trying to find someone at a concert. Location sharing powered by Glympse is a great way to share your live location for a specific amount of time. Choose how long you want to share your location for by setting the timer – when the timer runs out your location is private again. Now you see me…now you don't!" states Jeff Gadway, head of product and brand marketing, in a blog.

BBM also now provides support for Dropbox, making it easy to share large files like videos and presentations. Those on the receiving end can save the file(s) directly to the device, or add it to their own Dropbox account.

Finally, BBM now provides more than 100 new emoticons, many of which were actually submitted by BBM users. For more information about what's new in BBM, head here. The client can be downloaded for Android here, and iOS here.

  • Grandmastersexsay
    Is this article a joke or a paid advertisement?
  • Damon Palovaara
    If this catches on I will use it
  • osamabinrobot
  • schultzter
    I don't get the emoticon thing. If they're Emoji then there's a standard set, right? If not, if they're like :) and ;) then at some point it's getting just silly isn't it?
  • XGrabMyY
    Put it on PC and I might use it. Skype has awful noise cancelation and echo reduction features. Right now the single best VOIP software is Mumble, and it is anything but user friendly.
  • chicofehr
    BBM is the best thing BlackBerry has going for it. I wonder if they can make any $ off of it to offset the loss in their hardware business.