BlackBerry launches BBM Channels, a new way for brands to use BBM

BlackBerry has given BBM a radical rethink. The service, which has traditionally formed the basis of chat for its hardcore fans, will now have Facebook Pages-style channels.

BBM Channels works by giving brands an updateable page which can be shared within BBM. You can see how many people have viewed and shared your BBM Channel and other users are able to comment on the pages themselves.

Say you share a post from a BBM Channel, then all your friends within BBM can see it, comment and share it on with others. You can also discuss the post separately with friends as well as browse photos and other images posted to a BBM Channel.

It's a clever idea, which basically brings social advertising to BBM. Lewis Hamilton was on stage at the BlackBerry Live conference in Orlando, Florida, to explain BBM Channel's significance.

"Our fans are so passionate about Formula One so we want to keep them as close as possible," he said.

As such the Mercedes F1 team will be one of the first to run a BlackBerry Channel when the service launches in Beta today. Alicia Keys will also have a page as will Warner Records. BlackBerry is planning channel updates every two to four weeks and will launch the service commercially in the summer.