UPDATE 1-BlackBerry to offer BBM to Windows Phone and Nokia X platforms
(Adds report of QNX deal with Ford, background, share price move)
Feb 24 (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd will make its BBM messaging tool available to Microsoft Corp's Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months in a move to widen the user base, the smartphone maker said on Monday.
The announcement, coupled with a report that auto maker Ford Motor Co plans to base its next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry's QNX operating system and no longer use Microsoft's Windows platform, helped send shares of BlackBerry up 8 percent in midday trading.
Bloomberg said using QNX would be cheaper than licensing Microsoft technology and would improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system. The report cited sources briefed on the matter who requested anonymity because the decision was not public.
BlackBerry and Ford declined to comment on the report.
Shares of BlackBerry rose 8.4 percent to $9.91 on Nasdaq following the news on Monday. Its Toronto-listed shares rose 7.7 percent to C$10.95.
Reaching a deal with Ford would be a coup for BlackBerry, which is trying to reinvent itself as more of a software and services company after its smartphones have lost market share to Apple Inc's iPhone and a slew of devices powered by Google Inc's market-dominating Android platform.
Still, its BBM offering remains popular. Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry opened the service to the Android and iOS platforms late last year, and the number of active users has increased to more than 80 million.
BBM, or BlackBerry Messaging, offers collaboration tools such as BBM Groups, BBM Voice and BBM Channels and competes with services such as WhatsApp, which Facebook said last week it would buy for $19 billion. Continued...