BlackBerry bought French startup to boost BBM

BlackBerry acquired a small French social media startup known as Scroon in May as part of its strategy to improve its BBM messenger service, the company confirmed Friday.
The company has said that they expect BBM to turn a profit through a combination of marketing and advertising through some yet-to-be-launched features, such as BBM Channels. (Graeme Roy/AP)

BlackBerry acquired a small French social media startup known as Scroon in May as part of its strategy to improve its BBM messenger service, the company confirmed Friday.

“The acquisition of Scroon is clearly a further example of our commitment to BBM Channels,” said Andrew Bocking, the company’s executive vice-president of BBM. “We acquired Scroon because we wanted a premium management experience for our BBM Channels brand partners.”

BBM Channels is a social networking feature from BlackBerry which is currently in beta testing. The company says once it is operational, it will allow users to gather followers and share content, as well as give BlackBerry the means to target ads towards individual users.

Bocking has also said that video and voice chatting services for BBM, which are currently exclusive to BlackBerry users, will be released to Apple and Android platforms “within months”.  

The news comes days after BlackBerry announced 250 additional layoffs at its Waterloo headquarters as it executes a plan to cut 4,500 jobs.

BlackBerry wrote off $995 million in the third quarter on its Z10 device that was launched in February but failed to find a market.

The company had sought a buyer, but gave up on that idea in October, when it accepted a $1-billion funding offer led by Fairfax Holdings.

John Chen has now taken the reins at the company as interim CEO.

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