Throughout BlackBerry’s fall from grace, its one indisputable bright spot has been its BlackBerry Messenger service.
While many believe the company waited far too long to cross-platform BBM, the move has greatly improved the messaging service’s reach. The app was made available on October 21st of last year and quickly became the top free app in the both the Google Play store and the Apple App Store. BBM almost doubled its user base instantly.
When Facebook, to the shock of nearly everyone, acquired WhatsApp for $19-billion, it got people thinking. What is BBM, with just over a quarter of that competitor’s 400-million monthly users actually worth? The WhatsApp deal was more than triple BlackBerry’s market of just over $4.7-billion at that time. BlackBerry’s stock rose briefly on the news before petering out over a myriad of concerns, as is its way of late.
But New BlackBerry boss John Chen, charged with nothing less than saving the company after his predecessor Thorsten Heins failed to conjure that elusive magic, says BBM is an important part of the company’s future. In a recent interview with Economic Times he shifted a brief touch on the service into one of the company’s current attempts at monetization; BBM channels, a way for companies to brand themselves on the service.
BlackBerry continues to put its dollars behind BBM. A new in-flight ad currently showing on Virgin Atlantic aims to make the case that the app stacks up well against its competitors, which include not only WhatsApp, but China’s WeChat and offerings from Facebook and Twitter. The thirty-four second spot, designed by by U.K ad agency Pope Wainwright, highlights BlackBerry’s advantages, such as the ability to see when your messages have been delivered and when they have been read, its ability to share attachments easily, and it new location service, Glympse, which will forgive the agency for misspelling.
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