Skip to main content

BBM hits 160m registrations, but only half are active

In an effort to help it out of its dark hole, beleaguered BlackBerry some time ago started focusing increasingly on BBM with a range of strategic moves designed to widen its reach and generate some much needed revenue.

Following the arrival of the app on Android and iOS last fall, BlackBerry has gradually introduced monetization features such as sponsored channels, designed to give brands the chance to connect directly with users. It’s also been exploring sticker sales as a money-spinner.

Important for BlackBerry is how these moves have affected the app’s user base, especially with competitors such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp looking to grow its already enormous army of users, which at the last count stood at more than half a billion.

Spilling the beans, BlackBerry boss John Chen said during an earnings call Thursday that BBM now has 160 million registrations, up from a reported 113 million in March. However, the number of monthly active users has, according to Chen’s figures, stayed exactly the same – 85 million. Either the BlackBerry boss fumbled the figures, or a whole lot of smartphone owners are giving BBM very little love indeed.

In an effort to clarify the figures, we’ve reached out to the Canadian mobile maker and will update when we hear back.

If correct, Chen’s data indicates there’s been a 22 percent drop in the number of monthly active users in the last three months, with just over half of those who’ve downloaded the app using it with any regularity – not a particularly good sign if the company sees BBM as part of its saviour strategy.

However, with BBM for Windows Phone now confirmed to be coming next month, Chen says he expects the the number of active users to push past the 100 million mark “by the end of this calendar year.”

The CEO was speaking on the day his company revealed better-than-expected financial data for the three-month period ending May 31, with profits coming in at $23 million compared with a loss for the same time 12 months ago. However, the figures still showed a worrying year-on-year decline in revenue, down from $3.1 billion last year to $966 million for the most recent quarter.

Besides putting resources into BBM in an effort to help turn around the troubled company, Chen, who’s been in charge at BlackBerry since November, is also focusing on the enterprise market while at the same time pushing a number of new handsets.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
As BBM offers details on future update, Viber says it’s looking to launch on BB10
as bbm offers details on future update

BlackBerry has said on several occasions that it intends to spend time developing BBM, acting on its words by launching its popular messaging service on iOS and Android last fall. And just last week it said the app would soon land on Windows Phone and Nokia X, too.
Continuing with its BBM-focused efforts, the mobile company has been rolling out various updates for its cross-platform app, enhancing the user experience with new features designed to pit it against the likes of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Line, Kik, and others in the fiercely competitive instant messaging space.
Indeed, the market is so cutthroat that the Canadian mobile company now deems it necessary to announce updates before they've even been issued, with a recent blog post by Jeff Gadway, head of product and brand marketing for the messaging service, highlighting upcoming developments regarding BBM.
So at some point in the presumably not-too-distant future (Gadway omits to say precisely when the update is coming), BBM users will be able to share photos in group chats, a feature many users have apparently been asking for.
"This comes as an addition to existing sharing options in multi-person chats – sending voice notes, sharing your location powered by Glympse, and sending files from your Dropbox account," Gadway wrote on the Inside BlackBerry blog.
If you've been frustrated by the size limit imposed on files sent through the service, you'll be pleased to learn that BBM is set to increase it to 16MB from the current 6MB, enabling you to send larger pictures, documents and videos. Gadway offers an example – the current limit, he says, means you can only send 1080p HD videos six seconds in length. The update will push this to 16 seconds.
And, for those of you who care about such things, the mobile maker says it'll be increasing the size of the BBM emoticons. Deal breaker?
"We're taking your feedback and we're trying to knock it out of the park by bringing new features and improvements to BBM on a regular basis," Gadway said in his post.
In other related news, Viber said Sunday it's planning to launch its messaging app on BB10 at some point. The company behind the software said in a tweet it's "working with BB on a solution that will allow us to bring Viber to BB10," with more news on the plan promised "soon."

@kbuwa We are working with BB on a solution that will allow us to bring Viber to BB10. Please follow us for updates coming soon!
— Viber (@Viber) March 2, 2014

Read more
BBM now works on Android phones running Gingerbread
bbm now works on android phones running gingerbread

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) looks set to pick up a load more users in the coming weeks after the mobile company rolled out its popular app to more Android users Tuesday.
You're right, the social messaging app launched on Android back in October, though only for handsets running Ice Cream Sandwich (v. 4.0) or higher. Now, anyone with a device running Gingerbread (v. 2.3) can also get hold of the free app.
Considering more than 20 percent of Android handsets are still running Gingerbread – many of them in emerging markets – the wider compatibility has the potential to give the app's user base a significant boost.
Since taking the reins in November, BlackBerry boss John Chen has stated on several occasions that a heavier focus on BBM is part of the company's strategy to get the struggling business back on its feet. It's also set to concentrate more on the enterprise market with sales and services, an area in which it performed strongly when the Waterloo, Ontario mobile maker was in its prime a few years back.
When BBM launched for iOS and Android four months ago, it hit 10 million downloads in its first 24 hours after going live. Since then, the app has been gradually knocked into shape via several updates, the most recent of which brought free voice calls, a feature BlackBerry users have been able to make use of for over a year.
The launch of BBM for more Android users demonstrates BlackBerry's eagerness to exploit the better performing parts of its business, though increasing competition in the social messaging space means the long-term success of BBM is by no means guaranteed.
[BBM for Android]

Read more
Another one out: Executive in charge of BlackBerry’s BBM business exits company
as bbm offers details on future update

New BlackBerry boss John Chen knew from the start that getting the company back on its feet was always going to be more a walk on hot coals than a walk in the park. Indeed, he's now dealing with the loss of yet another senior executive, and this one from a winning division. Andrew Bocking, executive vice president of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), has decided to go.
Anyone who's been following the BlackBerry story will be well aware that BBM – the company's instant messaging tool – is one of its few success stories, as well as being one of the four key areas in which Chen said he plans to focus efforts as he seeks to strengthen the business following years of decline.
News of Bocking's departure was broken by BGR and later confirmed by BlackBerry to various media outlets. The Waterloo, Ontario company said the executive had "made the decision to leave BlackBerry" and thanked him for "his years of leadership and contribution," though declined to offer any details on why he had chosen to leave.
Bocking oversaw the launch of BBM for Android and iOS last October, with 10 million downloads of the messaging app reported in its first 24 hours of availability. However, the original roll out in September didn't go quite as smoothly as planned, with BlackBerry forced to postpone it when an "unreleased version" of the software appeared on various file-sharing sites, causing a number of problems for the BBM team.
According to Reuters, John Sims, leader of BlackBerry's enterprise segment, will incorporate the BBM unit into his own, with plans to further strengthen the instant messaging app and "expand it into new areas, including mobile marketing, community building and enterprise messaging."
CEO John Chen, who replaced Thorsten Heins in November, has said on several occasion he intends to focus more on BlackBerry’s traditional strengths, concentrating more on the enterprise market with sales and services while at the same time cutting costs.
In a piece written for CNBC in December, he described BBM as being "renowned in regulated industries for being the most secure mobile-messaging service" and promised the company will "continue to invest in this popular service and build out its features and channels, with plans to turn it into a revenue stream in the coming years."

Read more