Apple iMessage launch will go head-to-head with BBM

Apple iMessage instant chat app ready to take on BBM.

Apple iMessage launch threatens to take a bite out of BlackBerry's BBM pie.

Apple today unveiled iMessage, a new data-based push messaging service for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as a direct rival to BlackBerry's popular BBM.

The new "BBM for iOS 5" service - announced at Apple's annual developer's conference WWDC 2011 - lets users send text messages, photos, video and contacts to anyone on an iOS device. It works over WiFi and 3G, supports group chats and integrates with the new iOS 5 Notification Centre to deliver instant updates on incoming new messages. The instant chat app will also notify users when messages have been delivered and read.

The news will make RIM bosses sleep a little less easy tonight, despite the fact that they've already had to contend with BBM competitors on the app market, including Kik and PingChat! These apps enable you to chat across Apple and Android devices and have led to rumours that RIM might make BBM available on other platforms also.

One thing is certain, with the iMessage launch Apple will have tooled up its iOS devices with one of the most often quoted reasons for buying a BlackBerry over an iPhone.

Apple has pinned the iMessage release along with the release of its new mobile operating system, iOS 5, this Autumn.