Move brings more competition with Apple, Google and Skype
Canada based Research In Motion (RIM) has launched BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) version 7 that allows free voice calls through a Wi-Fi connection.
Including a split-screen feature that enables simultaneous talking and texting, the BBM Voice will offer a visual indicator that displays the contacts available for a voice call.
As a free update for existing customers, the new feature comes months prior to the release of RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 smartphones that are claimed to be critical to the firm’s survival.
The firm revealed that the free calls are confined to times and locations where Wi-Fi is accessible and is aimed at developing markets.
The BBM voice update is currently released for BlackBerry smartphones powered by the BlackBerry 6 operating system or higher, while the feature will be released for BlackBerry 5 later.
RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins told Reuters that it detected $800m of the $1bn of savings it promised for the financial year ending in early March 2013, with the rest through the launch of new phones.
"There’s this high-level security that you cannot walk away from, and then there’s ‘good enough’ security," Heins said.