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BBM messaging available to all - Well nearly all

From this weekend, users will no longer need to own a Blackberry device to access its BBM messaging service.

Blackberry has confirmed BBM will be available as a free download for Apple and Android devices but not for Windows phones.

The move comes as the Wall Street Journal reports that Blackberry will lay off 40% of its staff before 2014.

Widening the appeal of BBM could be a clever way for the company to reinvent itself, said experts.

Blackberry is having a tough time, sales are down, it is losing market to Windows phones and it needs to do something to stop the rot. This is as good a move as any, said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe.

Offering it across other platforms broadens the appeal of BBM, he added.

BBM will be available for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean while EE" target="out">iPhones running iOS 6 or iOS 7 can also download it. It will be available for Android from Saturday 21 September 2013 and for iOS from Sunday 22 September 2013.

With more than a billion Android, iOS and Blackberry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and EE" target="out">iPhone customers, said Andrew Bocking, vice-president for BBM in a blogpost.

Reinventing itself
BBM has been described as Blackberry's crown jewels and the service hit a chord with a mass consumer audience.

Offering it to a wider public will not make any money for the company.

It could even cost it money, said Mr Green.

The firm is having to reinvent itself and whether that will be by focusing on software, monetising BBM, licensing its products or joint ventures is not yet clear. At the moment it is throwing everything out there, said Mr Green.

Blackberry chief executive Thorsten Heins revealed the plan at the company's annual developers conference in May.

At the time, Mr Heins said that the move was a statement of confidence and would allow Blackberry Messenger to become an independent multi-platform messaging solution.

It could prove disruptive to other messaging services such as Skype and Whatsapp.

News from BBC Technology

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And do not forget that you can KEEP your existing mobile phone number if you decide to switch mobile phone operators. All you need is your PAC code. Use our handy tool on to obtain your PAC code.



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What is a PAC code?

A porting authorisation code, or PAC code, allows you to transfer your existing mobile phone number from to another mobile phone provider so that if you change mobile phone networks you do not have to give everyone a new number... You can keep your existing mobile phone number. The process is termed mobile number portability, or number porting. It's quick, FREE and very easy to do - follow the instructions here for full details on how to port your mobile phone number to a new network provider.

NOTE: You can purchase your new phone contract and then obtain your PAC code. It is not essential to have your PAC code prior to purchasing your new phone. However, you will need your PAC code if you want to keep your existing phone number (i.e. transfer your current number to your new provider). Use our handy tool above to obtain your PAC code.

PAC codes are FREE.

To keep your mobile phone number when switching to another mobile phone network, use our handy tool to obtain your PAC code. Just select your current and new phone provider click OK and you'll receive full instructions for obtaining your PAC code.