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BlackBerry taking 'a very serious look' at bringing BBM to desktop: CEO John Chen

Reuters

Last Updated: March 29, 2014, 11:10 IST

BlackBerry taking 'a very serious look' at bringing BBM to desktop: CEO John Chen

BBM, with over 80 million users, was a pioneering mobile-messaging service, but user growth has failed to keep pace with that of WhatsApp and other competitors.

Toronto: BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who has been meeting with BlackBerry clients, said the company is planning to bring its popular BlackBerry Messenger service, known as BBM, from mobile devices onto desktop computers.

Such a move, Chen said, would allow employees of big companies and government agencies to go mobile on group chats started on their PCs, without skipping a beat.

"We are certainly going to take a very serious look at putting BBM on the desktop," he said.

Last month, BlackBerry said that it would make BBM available on Microsoft Corp's Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months. The messaging tool was last year opened up to users of iPhones and Android devices.

BBM, with over 80 million users, was a pioneering mobile-messaging service, but user growth has failed to keep pace with that of WhatsApp and other competitors, in part because BlackBerry had long refused to open the program other platforms.

The potential value of a messaging platform was highlighted by Facebook Inc's acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion in stock and cash. The news had helped boost BlackBerry's stock.

In February, BlackBerry outlined its plans to launch BBM Protected for enterprise clients in regulated industries, such as the financial sector.

Chen said BlackBerry is now back on solid financial footing after it sold the vast majority of its real estate portfolio and arranged a convertible debt financing in 2013.

The CEO said he was "very comfortable" with the balance sheet and plans to be cash flow positive or neutral by the end of this fiscal year. Still, any hope of turning a profit is quite a few quarters away.

"It is our plan to return to profitability at some point in fiscal 2016," said Chen. "We need to generate cash and make money on a consistent basis, and it's got to come from our big installed base of enterprise and if we can do that, then we can branch out to do a lot of other stuff."
first published:March 29, 2014, 11:10 IST
last updated:March 29, 2014, 11:10 IST