BlackBerry to launch BBM on iPhone and Android, plus all-new BBM Channels

BlackBerry is set to significantly ramp up its social and messaging strategy, today announcing that BBM will be launched as a standalone app on other mobile platforms, while also unveiling a new service dubbed BBM Channels.

The news was presented at the opening keynote of BlackBerry Live in Florida, shortly after CEO Thorstein Heins unveiled the new BlackBerry Q5 handset and the BB 10.1 software upgrade.

The arrival of long-standing IM service BBM on other platforms could well reinvigorate an app that has been on the wane, with iPhone and Android users able to download the service from “this summer.”

Meanwhile, the BBM Channels service looks to connect brands and celebrities with their fans in the style of a social network. Users can post news and statuses on the service which fans can like or comment on, while one-on-one communication can be enabled if the Channel owner initiates a chat.

Supporting the announcement on stage was an awkward-looking Lewis Hamilton, who spoke of the importance of connecting with fans. Hamilton's Mercedes Formula 1 team will be one of the first to host a channel which launches in beta today, before a commercial release in the summer.