While stickers may not have been the most sought after feature for BBM users keen to see the service develop, BlackBerry nevertheless clearly sees them as a major revenue-making opportunity, on Tuesday rolling out sticker packs as an in-app purchase for users of its messaging service.
The new feature is part of a cross-platform app update that also includes support for sending larger files via the service and the ability to share photos in multi-person chats.
As for the stickers, BBM users can now download packs for $1.99 from the BBM Shop, with each one containing between 20 and 25 images.
Besides original artwork, content also relates to themes or characters such as CosCat, Gilbert’s Tales or Bubble Bot, or could include material from popular brands including Shaun the Sheep and WWE, explained Jeff Gadway, BBM’s head of product and brand marketing.
To get you started, Gadway said some packs will be offered for free, so keep your eyes peeled if you fancy adding a bit of color to your messages or just want an alternative to your run-of-the-mill emoticons.
BlackBerry is making a number of moves to try to monetize BBM as the company seeks to get back in the black in the next couple of years. If the success of rival messaging service Line is anything to go by, stickers could certainly bring in a few bucks – the Japan-based service made $31.5 million through sticker sales in Q3 last year, accounting for 20 percent of its revenue. Stickers have, in recent years, gained huge popularity in parts of Asia – an area of the world where BBM is widely used – though such a feature is yet to really take off in locations such as the US.
Besides stickers, BlackBerry’s BBM monetization strategy also includes ads in the form of sponsored channels to give brands the chance to connect directly with users, as well as a person-to-person money transfer service, which is currently undergoing trials in Indonesia.
The update also allows users to send files of up to 16MB, up from 6MB, and to share images in multi-person chats, “making it easy to send a pic to several people and chat about it together.”
The latest versions of BBM, which is available now, are as follows: BlackBerry 10 (v10.3.1); BlackBerry OS (v8.2); Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (v.2.1).