BBM Meetings Turns The Messenger Into A Cross-Platform Virtual Conference Service

BlackBerry is rolling out a number of new enterprise-focused features and partnerships today, which is a sign that CEO John Chen is on the right track when it comes to effecting a workable turnaround for the beleaguered Canadian tech firm. Part of that is a new feature for BBM which should prove popular with enterprise users of the mobile messaging solution: BBM Meetings.

The Meetings feature in BBM is a voice and video teleconferencing solution that will be available on Android, BB10, Windows PC and Mac (and not on iOS, though BlackBerry says that’s “coming soon”) that lets you start or schedule a virtual meeting on the fly from BBM chats. Invitees can be attended via BBM or email, and the meetings are synced up to your device’s calendar automatically.

Attendees will receive an inbound call when the meeting is getting underway, and they answer and then they’re already in the meeting, bypassing the usual dialing, conference code and pin entry that generally accommodates virtual conferences. You can also present from either your mobile device or desktop, sharing your entire screen, a presentation, or a specific document. The BBM Meetings can support up to 25 participants at a time, with HD video. Screen sharing features might partly explain why iOS can’t partake – Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to share their device screen with others.

BBM Meetings will be available as part of a new Enterprise Communicator services bundle in December that offers it, BBM Protected and advanced technical support for $12 per month per user, but on its own it’ll cost you $12.50 per host per month for now (attendees can participate for free), with a 30-day initial free trial available.

Meetings is another sign that Chen’s priorities are in the right place – BlackBerry needs to focus on offering this kind of enterprise service, at a cost advantage compared to other providers, and using its strengths (BBM) while acknowledging the changed market (cross-platform) to succeed.