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MOBILE NEWS: BlackBerry expands BBM to Android and iOS

The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app is to be offered on rival platforms by the summer, Blackberry's chief executive, Thorsten Heins, revealed at the company's annual developers conference in Orlando.

BlackBerry said it is planning on initially offering texts, photo messages and group sharing functions on Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

The phone giant also plans to roll out free screen sharing, voice and video calls later in the year.

The Canadian company said more than 60 million Blackberry owners already used BBM at least once a month. As a result, the move could prove disruptive to rivals such as Skype and Whatsapp.

Heins said: "You might ask the question why is Blackberry doing this now.

"It's a statement of confidence. The Blackberry 10 platform is so strong and the response has been so good that we are confident the time is right for Blackberry Messenger to become an independent multiplatform messaging solution."