Betting On BBM

What are your expectations from the voice call messenger that you have launched? How will it help to boost sales? In addition to the Voice Messenger, what other features have you added?

The addition of the Voice Call feature on BBM for Android and iOS was well received globally. This feature enables BlackBerry, Android and iPhone customers across the world, to make free voice calls to BBM contacts over a Wi-Fi or data connection with BBM Voice. Plus there are some other features:

BBM Channels: BBM channels let customers chat with other BBM users about topics that interest them. Channels can be created by brands, businesses and BBM customers alike and are a great way to communicate directly and immediately with people who share common interests in the broader BBM community. Today, there are approx. 250,000 BBM Channels across the globe. Some of the Indian Channels are: Airtel,, Firstbiz, Thomas Cook, The Economic Times, Times of India, Ganna, and Café Coffee Day among others.
Dropbox integration: With Dropbox built in to BBM, users can send a file from their personal cloud directly to a BBM contact. On the receiving end, users can save the file directly to their smartphone or add it to the Dropbox account:
Location Sharing: This feature, powered by Glympse, enables the user to share their real-time location with one or several BBM contacts for a specified amount of time. They can specify the duration for which they want to be discoverable by location, through a predefined timer. When the timer runs out, the customers’ location becomes private again
Emoticons: BBM now has more than 100 new emoticons which have been added to the existing set of emoticons. It is worth noting that a number of the new emoticons have been developed based on user recommendation.
FindFriends: BBM now includes a new find friends feature that allows you to discover people you know that are already on BBM, allowing invites from within the BBM app. The find friends feature detects contacts in your smartphone contact list that use BBM and allows you to quickly send an invitation on BBM.

From a business strategy standpoint, messaging services have been identified as one of the key growth pillars for BlackBerry going forward and as the user base grows to critical mass, we will look to monetise the platform. The strategies for this are still to be finalised. However, we expect it to become a major source of revenue going forward.

In 2013, BlackBerry launched BBM Messenger for Android devices and iOS. How was the response? How many BBM downloads did you get till now? What were the after effects?
Launched in Oct 2013, BBM on Android and iOS was an instant success globally across the two platforms. The application witnessed 10 million downloads within the first 24 hours of the application going live. Within a week since its launch, BBM was also amongst the top free overall apps across 35 countries in Google Play and 107 countries in the App StoreSM, and continues to maintain a strong position in key markets.

Today, there are more than 85 million active BBM users across BlackBerry, Android and iPhone. We have expanded our BBM offerings to reach a wider audience, including our enterprise customers. These announcements were made at the MWC, Barcelona and will be available September 2014:

BBM For Windows and Nokia X consumers: The service will offer comprehensive suite of messaging and collaboration features mentioned above in question one
Enterprise BBM (eBBM) Suite: This new offering will work with BlackBerry smartphones and BES BES10 and will provide enterprise-class mobile messaging that will bring together the core strengths of BBM with features and capabilities aimed at enterprises. BBM Protected will be the first solution offered in the new eBBM Suite, bringing regulated industries the most secure and reliable real-time mobile messaging in the industry. Employees will be able to use BBM to connect with internal colleagues, while remaining free to message BBM contact outside the organisation. BBM Protected as part of the eBBM Suite is expected to launch this summerand will be available to enterprise customers through a monthly per-user fee

What are the BBM Channels?
BBM Channels is a social networking tool that enables customers to chat with other BBM users about topics that interest them. Customers can join channels about a range of topics from products, hobbies and sports to entertainment, fashion, cars and more. Additionally, Channels can also be created by brands, businesses and BBM customers alike and are a great way to communicate directly and immediately with people who share common interests in the broader BBM community.

By posting to their channel, channel owners immediately reach out to their subscribers with a message that can spark discussions. “Scheduled chat hours” allow BBM customers to have live chats with the channel owner – a great way to engage directly with their favorite channels one on one.

For brands and businesses, BBM Channels provides a new way to interact and connect with a highly engaged and targeted mobile audience. Today, there are approx. 250,000 brands across the globe.

Video call is available on BB10 hand set, when it will be available for users for all Blackberry smartphones?
BBM Voice call feature is already available on BlackBerry® 5 OS or higher devices. However, both the parties should have data plan that supports BlackBerry services and a Wi-Fi connection.

Please note that BlackBerry data plans are not required for BB10 devices  – they function on standard 3G plans.

How important is India as a market for BBM?
India is amongst the top 10 markets for BlackBerry globally and is extremely important for us from both a consumer as well as enterprise perspective. From an overall business perspective, we have witnessed traction across business segments in 2013 including devices, enterprise and services.

Additionally, India has been a stronghold for BlackBerry on the back of the success of the BBM instant messaging platform. BBM remains a primary IM service for the Indian urban youth and we plan to build on this going forward by making it platform agnostic with Windows offering.  We would continue to deliver new functionality to BBM across platforms providing users a simple and effective way to stay connected.

What are the projections for India in terms of sales volume and turnover?
Being a listed company, we do not divulge our revenue projections along with sales and turnover figures by country.That said, we have aggressive plans for the India market and believe that these will bode well for us in FY15.

How are you planning to increase the sales in India?
As a company, we are very positive about the future especially with the BlackBerry 10 platform and what it offers to both consumers and enterprise customers. Our enterprise success story is our legacy and we’ve carried that forward with the BB 10 as well. As we move forward in 2014, we’ve structured our business into four operational units including Enterprise Services, Messaging, QNX Embedded business and the Devices business. This structure will help us drive greater focus on services and software, while establishing a more efficient business model for the devices business.

We have a robust marketing plan to engage with our consumers through various touch points. We recently announced a special offer on BlackBerry Z10 to celebrate BlackBerry’s 10th anniversary in India. The device will now be available to the Indian consumers for Rs 17,990 till April end.

From an overall marketing perspective, BlackBerry has been keenly focused on the urban youth and bringing them into the BlackBerry fold has been critical to our success – whether through devices or our popular BBM instant messaging platform. With this end in mind, our outreach with colleges has been massively successful- we successfully implemented the same during the launch of BBM in Oct last year. We’ve witnessed large-scale participation of youth in these activities and we continue to remain relevant to and in sync with our audience through them.

What is your strategy to deal with new entrants in the markets?
BlackBerry has been a pioneer in the instant messaging space with BBM preceding almost all of the new services available today. It was what got the Indian urban youth hooked to their BlackBerrys and remains one of the most robust and secure IMs in the market today. So even while newer entrants flood the market, today, BlackBerry is on the cusp of taking BBM to the next level with our cross platform offering that makes it available to Android and iOS customers. We will add the Windows platform soon as well. Even so, at Blackberry, we believe that we need to continuously evolve and engage with the consumers to stay ahead in the game. With the launch of the updated version recently, BBM continues to deliver new functionality as a premier messaging platform that provides a simple and effective way to stay connected. BBM Channels is also a new part of the BBM universe that no other player offers at the moment.

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