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LG will preload BlackBerry Messenger on future phones

LG has inked a deal with BlackBerry to pre-load BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) on certain LG handsets.

The first device to come bundled with BBM will be the LG G Pro Lite, a 5.5in Android-based smartphone unveiled in October that is rolling out to Latin America, Asia, Russia, China, India, and the Middle East.

But BBM will arrive on other LG phones as standalone apps or through the LG App Manager, though LG did not elaborate. BBM will continue to be available via Google Play.

"BBM is widely used throughout the Middle East, Africa and Indonesia where smartphone users tend to engage heavily in social networking," Kevin Shin, LG's vice president of marketing for Asia, the Middle East, and CIS countries, said in a statement.

"The LG G Pro Lite offers an optimised BBM experience with its large, high-quality display and embedded Stylus Pen."

"People across the globe are using BBM to connect with each other and the enthusiasm has been phenomenal," said Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry. "We're extremely pleased that LG Electronics will help bring their customers a more seamless experience with BBM by preloading the app, starting with the G Pro Lite in key markets."

After a rocky start, BlackBerry released BBM for iOS and Android on 21 October, racking up more than 10 million downloads in its first 24 hours. A recent update simplified organisation and the process of inviting friends.

BlackBerry promised today that the BBM experience on Android and iOS will "evolve" in the coming months, including support for BBM Channels, BBM Voice calling, and BBM Video calling.

BlackBerry, however, is still on shaky ground. Last month, CEO Thorsten Heins was ousted in a deal whereby Fairfax Financial agreed to invest $1 billion (£610 million) in the company rather than buy it out. The phone maker was already struggling going in to 2013, but hoped that the release of BlackBerry 10 and a new line of smartphones would help it compete against Samsung and Apple.

That didn't happen, though, with the new iPhones and Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Note 3 grabbing smartphone buyers' attention this year.