Nestor Arellano
By Nestor E. Arellano

Imagine being able to send an instant message to your colleagues while you’re doing something on a productivity application in your phone. Better yet, picture how cool it would be if you could trash-talk your buddy while the two of you battle in a mobile game on your BlackBerries.

These are just some of the stuff that BlackBerry Messenger Version 6, the latest iteration of the popular BBM instant messaging client, can do.

Yesterday, RIM announced that it has opened up BBM to integrate with a score of other apps including FourSquare, Score Mobile, the Huffington post app and Wikitude. Other BBM 6-connected apps can be found in App World, RIM`s application store.

RIM said other functionalities that users can expect from the BBM-connected applications include:

• Share app experiences with friends – When a user discovers a great new BBM connected app, they can instantly let their friends know about it. Users can simply select a BBM contact directly within the BBM connected app they are using.

• Have a BBM chat within apps – Users can simply pull up their BBM contact list directly from within the BBM connected app and start chatting. For example, the functionality can enable everything from enhanced social game play to collaboration through productivity apps.

• Discover apps through friends – Users can also discover new apps by viewing the list of apps that are posted to a BBM friend’s profile. They can also click on an app within the list, and instantly download it from BlackBerry App World.

For your average texting fiend the possibilities must be exciting. With a BBM 6 connected game app, users can invite other BBM friend to join them in a game. While playing the game, the gang can chat about each other – on real time, without leaving the game.

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Hossam Bahlool, director of platform product management for RIM says there are now about 30 applications that are integrated with BBM 6. At the moment, most of the apps are games, social apps, media consumption apps and location-based apps.

However, Bahlool tell ITBusiness.ca that more business focused apps are in the works.

“I just saw somebody from a company that is working with an SAP-based app which they plan to connect with BBM 6,” he said. “People will be viewing a purchase order on their BlackBerry and can chat with a co-worker or the supplier to confirm details of the shipment,” Bahlool said. “With BBM 6 this can be done all in real-time without switching from the SAP app to the phone.”

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BBM 6 also makes things easier for app developers, according to Bahlool. “The social element of BBM 6 will provide greater visibility and awareness to a developer’s creation,” he said.

The way he envisions it, BBM 6 users who are using a certain game or application will be telling their friends about via SMS. “And their friend’s friends will tell their own friends via BBM 6,” said Bahlool.

How is the company going to attract new users to BBM 6 if app developers are starting to shy away from the BlackBerry platform?

“It’s going to be tough to get developers to develop anything for BBM 6 because a lot of them are saying they are holding off developing anything for BlackBerry until QNX arrives,” said Kye Husbands, co-founder of myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.

Husbands, also blogs for ITBusiness.ca on the topic of mobility.

Husbands says the BBM 6 is more of an “evolution rather than a revolution.”

“It was an incremental improvement Rim had to do because everything is now connected to social media anyway,” he said.

Will it help RIM weather its woes?

RIM is in the middle of a massive flux. It has been an uphill battle for market share for its PlayBook tablet, there are delays in the release of its touch screen BlackBerry Bold and last week the company announced it was shedding a tenth of its worldwide workforce. But the thing that could impact BBM 6 is the planned 2012 release of new QNX-based phones.

Developers are building apps for the PlayBook and awaiting for the QNX-based phone but are turning a cold shoulder to the old BlackBerry platform.

“Developers will have to ask themselves: Is it worth it to spend time and money developing an app for something that will be replaced soon?” said Husbands.

However, Bahlool said RIM is not worried. “BBM 6 will appear in all the QNX-based tablets and mobile devices we will produce,” he said.

RIM claims that there are no less than 43 million active BBM users around the globe. About 70 per cent of these people send out more than one message each day which amount to over 100 billion messages each month.

Do you think BBM 6 will go viral?

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn,
read his blogs on ITBusiness.ca Blogs, email nestor at narellano@itworldcanada.com and join the ITBusiness.ca
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  • Gisabun

    BBM6 would be better if cross-platform.

  • Andrew K

    Sadly their latest BBM release yesterday is a step backwards. AppWorld users are complaining that the latest version is slow, a resource hog, ugly and not consistent with other apps. It also is missing the feature to show what you are listening to.