BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Enhancements Coming Soon: What to Expect

RIM today told its Facebook fans to expect new BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) features in the "days and weeks ahead."

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion today announced via its Facebook fan page that it will be adding new features to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) IM application in the near future. The company didn't offer details on new features or functionalities, but I think I have a good idea of what to expect.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Graphic from RIM's Facebook Fan Page
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Graphic from RIM's Facebook Fan Page

From RIM's Facebook page:

"There are some exciting things coming for BlackBerry Messenger in the days (and weeks!) ahead. Make sure you have the latest version of BBM so that you can be a part of it! If you already have the latest BBM version, 5.0.0.57, then no update is required."

BBM is RIM's BlackBerry-specific, mobile IM application that uses unique "PIN" codes associated with every BlackBerry to connect RIM smartphone users. And the software has seen an explosion in popularity in recent months, due largely to the vast number of consumer-users who've purchased BlackBerry smartphones.

In the past, BBM was not updated frequently—perhaps once or twice a year. But BBM has already seen a few significant updates in past half-year: a major upgrade to BBM 5.0 last fall; and another performance update introduced in late December that accidentally brought down RIM's entire BlackBerry service.

The next BBM update may be coming soon, based on RIM's on Facebook post. And the company's chosen venue for the announcement suggests the update will be mostly "consumer-related," as opposed to an enterprise-oriented upgrade. Here are four possibilities for what to expect:

-Additional social-network integration, so you'll be able to update Twitter, Facebook, etc. from within BBM, among other things. RIM also recently introduced its own Twitter for BlackBerry app, so its stands to reason that these two offerings could be further integrated.

-Location-based services (LBS), to allow you to alert other BBM users, and possibly social network connections, of your location. As stated by Simon Sage today on IntoMobile.com, there has been chatter in the past about BBM getting bolstered LBS features, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if RIM intros them soon. Location-based social-network Foursquare has also seen a drastic boost in uptake recently, and some sort of BBM/Foursquare integration could potentially be on the horizon.

-BBM Groups update to improve device performance and decrease battery drain. BBM Groups lets you connect with BlackBerry users based on a specific subject area, so you can quickly connect with contacts and share information on a particular subject. The idea sounds like a good one, but as is, BBM Groups puts a real strain on your BlackBerry's memory and battery. An update could improve upon these issues and make BBM Groups a more feasible option, as well as add cool new features.

-Additional "Show What I'm Doing" features that would provide a more robust BBM experience for the user and all contacts. BBM currently offers a "Show What I'm Listening To" option that displays a user's current music selections to BBM contacts, and RIM could build on this with options for "Show What Video I'm Watching" or a "Show What E-Book I'm Reading," etc.

Again, these are just my predictions, and I can't say for sure whether or not we'll see them soon. But we know some changes are in the pipeline, and all of the above mentioned tweaks would be welcome, at least from my standpoint.

If you're looking for more information on BBM, check out my recent post on BBM best practices.

AS

Facebook via BerryReview

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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