The BlackBerry that’s in the process of reinventing itself is an increasingly cross-platform creature — retrenching to serving its enterprise core by seeking to help them manage the bring-your-own-device wave that decimated its previous business.
Mobile device management — or rather the broader ‘enterprise mobility management’ field — is not BlackBerry’s only cross-platform play though. BBM, its relatively recently liberated messenger client, is another strand the company is factoring in to its future revenue pie.
“We have a very solid BBM monetisation plan,” said BlackBerry’s new boss, John Chen, during a conference call today, following the company’s Q4 results.
BlackBerry finally started rolling out its messaging app to the Android and iOS platform last October — taking what had been a walled garden messaging client cross-platform.
Chen said today that BBM has about 85 million monthly users, and 113 million registered users. The company has previously cited the MAUs figure. The registered users number appears to be new.
“We’re seeing a solid uptick in multi platform users, driving growth in total registration,” he added. “Like last quarter, growing the BBM user base is a top priority and we have a number of initiatives driving this.”
Chen reiterated that BBM will be coming to Windows Phone, targeted for fiscal Q2. It’s also on the Nokia X forked Android software platform — and will be pre-loaded on Nokia devices in select markets, including some Lumia devices (once BBM comes to WP).
He also pointed to updates last month, which added various features to the Android and iOS versions of BBM, including voice calls and BBM’s message-board style group interactions, called Channels, as another way it’s hoping to grow the messenger app’s cross-platform usage.
Chen said the number of Channels has more than doubled in the past four months — rising from 200,000 when he started in the CEO role to circa 500,000 now.
“BBM Channel is drawing some strong interest from brands and business,” said Chen. “We add a lot of new Channel daily. Recent partners include CNBC, Time, Rolling Stone and Virgin Atlantic… This number is growing very fast.”
He also flagged up the level of user engagement on BBM Channels — with users reading an average of 11.5 posts per day.
“That’s highly engaging model,” he said, adding that a pay per user model for Channels is a “potential monetization opportunity” for BBM. Albeit one that’s further out than stickers: the “nearer term” monetization plan that’s coming “soon”, with the launch of the previously announced BBM Shop.
Chen also touched on what he described as “the most strategic” aspect of BlackBerry continuing to invest in BBM: a forthcoming enterprise-grade version of messaging services that’s called eBBM Suites.
He said this will offer messaging services with “regulator level enhanced security” to the enterprise cloud.
In other words, even BlackBerry’s consumer messaging product is being brought back to the security-conscious enterprise core where BlackBerry started. You can’t fault Chen’s focus.
“We are introducing customers to BBM Protect in the public sector, the financial services, most of the regulated, security-conscious verticals. We have already got really high interest level from those,” he said.
Adding mobile payments to BBM is another “longer term monetiztion play”, said Chen.