BlackBerry wants BBM to start making money, plans to sell virtual goods

At this point in the company’s lifespan, it’s not a secret that BlackBerry is going through the motions. From top to bottom, it’s struggling in the smartphone business. The next plan to turn things around: funneling money into its chat service, BBM.

We’ve already heard that BlackBerry intends to make money off of BBM through ads, though at the time, BBM head of product and brand marketing Jeff Gadway assured us that promoted content would not make its way to messages themselves. BBM Business Development senior director David Proulx echoed Gadway’s comments, confirming that there will be sponsored channels that would allow brands to attempt to directly connect with you. In addition, BlackBerry will soon sell various virtual goods through a BBM store. The first items for sale: virtual stickers like those birthday gifts people send on Facebook.

Interestingly, BlackBerry is also looking into using BBM to send money to others. Currently, the BBM person-to-person money transfer service is in trials in Indonesia, but Proulx confirmed that BlackBerry will expand the service to other countries sometime this year, though no exact date was given.

For BlackBerry, this seems like a no-brainer. “Because we are by nature private and secure and reliable and regulator compliant, we are ideally suited to bring value in mobile money and financial services,” said Proulx.

As for the business side of things, BlackBerry will offer a paid version of BBM to businesses who wish for a more secure version of the messaging service. Same as with the person-to-person money transfer service. However, Proulx didn’t indicate when such an option would become available to businesses. In general, BlackBerry hopes to implement these money-making features in the next 12 months.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: