By Patrick Avenell

The first day of BlackBerry’s annual jolly to Orlando, Florida, has produced some actual news: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is coming to iOS and Android devices later this year and a new QWERTY keyboard handset aimed at junior BlackBerry users (presumably codenamed ‘Ribena’) is coming soon to selected markets.

BlackBerry Messenger is widely regarded as one of the greatest mobile features in smartphone history. A precursor to iMessage and Google Talk, it let BlackBerry users text each other, or groups of others, without charge and with near immediacy. So good is BBM at communicating with efficacy and aplomb, the service was identified as an organising tool of the 2011 London Riots.

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As one-time CrackBerry addicts slowly morphed into Apple Fanboys and Google fAndroids, there has been a growing call for BlackBerry to make BBM an app that can be used across platforms. That call has been answered, as a BlackBerry executive, presumably wearing Mickey Mouse ears and drinking a Mai Tai, explained from Florida:

“BlackBerry today announced plans to make its groundbreaking mobile social network, BlackBerry Messenger, available to iOS and Android users this summer, with support planned for iOS6, and Android 4.0 or higher, all subject to approval by the Apple App Store and Google Play.

“BBM sets the standard for mobile instant messaging with a fast, reliable, engaging experience that includes delivered and read statuses, and personalised profiles and avatars. Upon release, BBM customers would be able to broaden their connections to include friends, family and colleagues on other mobile platforms.”

And what device will the kids be using to BBM each other? The BlackBerry Q5! This new 4G handset, running the BlackBerry 10 operating system, features a full QWERTY keyboard and is designed specifically to target the youth market.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, presumably while riding the Tea Cups at Disney World, had this to say:

“The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical QWERTY keyboard. It is for youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected.”

The Q5 is available in black, white, red and pink. The screen is 3.1 inches diagonally with a 720 x 720 resolution at 329 PPI.

There are 2GB of RAM and 8GB of Flash storage, expandable by up to 40GB via MicroSD. There’s a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor, 5-megapixel rear camera with Full HD recording and GPS.

BlackBerry reports that this model will only be available in selected markets, and does not specify whether Australia is one of those. If it is coming Down Under, it is expected to be here in July 2013.

Read our wrap of Day 2 of BlackBerry Jam Americas in Orlando

Youth Market: the new BlackBerry Q5.

In less interesting news from the BlackBerry Jam Americas conference, Alicia Keys launched an initiative, Flurry Analytics was unveiled to help app developers keep tabs on users, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 v10.1 is now available for download and secure enterprise instant messaging is now enabled on BlackBerry 10.