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.

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