BlackBerry Live 2013 isn't just about new phones and OS versions. CEO Thorsten Heins just announced BBM channels, a way for people, companies and brands to provide streams of content in BBM. The new service allows users to search for and subscribe to preferred channels, comment and share posts with friends and also have one-to-one chats with channel administrators. Users can create and curate their own channels as well, with metrics to track the amount of traffic they're receiving. So, it's essentially Twitter, only with a decidedly BlackBerry flavor.

Following the initial announcement, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton appeared onstage to chat a bit more about the new platform and explained that the service will provide his F1 team the ability to communicate more directly and easily with fans. Excited to join Mr. Hamilton on the BBM channel bandwagon? Well, the beta's available for download now for BlackBerry devices running BB 5 and up, and the full release is slated to arrive later this summer.

BBM Channels

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BBM Now Lets You Tune In to the People and Communities That Matter To You with BBM Channels

WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 14, 2013) - For the times when you want to share experiences beyond your friends or engage the communities you care about, BlackBerry(R) is taking its globally popular mobile social network, BlackBerry(R) Messenger (BBM(TM)), up a notch with new functionality called BBM Channels. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY)(TSX:BB) today announced the beta launch of BBM Channels, a new social engagement platform within BBM that will allow people to connect with the businesses, brands, celebrities and groups they are passionate about.

"BBM is the best way to stay connected, and with today's announcement, we're again expanding the capabilities of the service to provide a deeper real-time engagement experience for people to connect with brands, business, and communities that matter most to them," said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President of Software Product Management and Ecosystem at BlackBerry. "With over 60 million highly engaged customers using BBM, content creators have a great opportunity to build deeper relationships, enhance their brands, and connect in new ways."

BBM Channels allows individuals and groups to create a dedicated channel and share information and updates with the immediacy that BBM offers. BBM customers around the world will be able to connect and share information, broadcast about themselves to their channel, or join their favorite communities and share their experiences of the channel with their BBM contacts.

Starting today, BBM customers can connect and share the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team on their BBM Channels. BlackBerry is working with leading global brands around the world to help them build and promote exciting new BBM Channel offerings.

BBM Channels features:

-- Create a channel - Create, edit and publish in an instant, and there are
no limits to the number of followers you can have in your channel.
Securely manage your channel from either a BlackBerry smartphone or the
web.
-- Discover channels - BBM Channels includes a carousel that lets you
discover new channels. You can share channel invites within a BBM chat,
and people can be added or invited using the channel's PIN or QR code.
-- View - View profiles for each BBM Channel you choose to follow.
-- Subscribe - Subscribing to a channel allows the channel owner to send
you timely and relevant updates, giving the subscriber instant access to
your news, deals, events or whatever you want to communicate.
Subscribers can choose to receive notifications when new posts are
available.
-- Participate - Participate and engage in conversations with your favorite
people or communities by "Commenting" and "Liking" posts from channels
you subscribe to. Channel owners have the option to directly chat one-
on-one with a subscriber.
-- Monitor engagement - Easily use built-in measuring tools to assess and
monitor follower engagement and interaction.

Today, BlackBerry also announced plans to bring BBM to iOS(R) and Android(TM) users this summer. BlackBerry expects that iOS and Android users will also be able to experience BBM Channels later this year, subject to approval by the Apple App Store and Google Play.

BBM with BBM Channels is now available in beta for BlackBerry(R) 10 smartphones, as well as BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry(R) 5 OS through 7.1. For BlackBerry OS customers(i), BBM Channels is part of the new BBM version 8, which also offers enhanced navigation tools, with tabbed viewing for quick and easy access to contacts, chats, groups, recent updates and BBM Channels. Furthermore, it allows the option to share your enhanced profile information with BBM contacts or within invitations. The beta releases can be downloaded for free on BlackBerry Beta Zone(ii). Customers can sign up to BlackBerry Beta Zone for free at www.BlackBerry.com/betazone. For more information about BBM, please visit www.blackberry.com/bbm.

(i)BBM requires a BlackBerry service plan on BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry OS.

(ii)BlackBerry Beta Zone is not available in all markets.

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BlackBerry announces BBM channels, gives dedicated messaging streams to brands and users