June 9, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Following Apple’s promise to deliver an iOS 5 messaging platform that mirrors the functionality of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has been hard at work doing the same. Before you say, “Duh, Android already has GTalk,” that is not the same. BBM is more advanced because it has file and location sharing, groups, and other features that are all optimized for the mobile experience.
“A person familiar with the matter” claims that Google is making its own BBM-like communication service for Android, but there’s no word on when that would arrive. Carriers are a little uneasy about this development because a popular messaging system built directly into the OS or a freely-available Android app would eat into their profits from SMS text messages. It was bad enough when BBM exploded in popularity among BlackBerry users, but similar features among Android and iPhone would lead to a long-term drop in revenue. The only reason to text someone would be if that person didn’t have the same platform as you, so carriers couldn’t collect fees or push users into inflated data plans that include SMS.
There’s already a large number of BBM for Android clones available that also work across platforms. Heck, even RIM is rumored to be working on adding limited BBM support for Android and iOS users. But while users may see cross-platform support as a more desirable way to message friends, Google may make its own BBM clone to keep up with the Jones’s and make sure that Android remains in-line with the competition.
Is there really any point to that line of thinking? Why limit your communication to only the inner circle of friends and family who share your desire to use Android? Google could really do something special if its Google Messenger (unofficial name that I will use until corrected) worked across platforms. Eliminate the appeal of BBM and iMessage by creating an advanced messaging system that works as good on a BlackBerry Torch or iPhone as it does on Inspire 4G. Google is always trumpeting the power of the cloud because it frees users from the confines of a specific device. Doing the same for messaging just makes sense.
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