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BlackBerry Details Plans to Turn BBM into a Cash Maker

BlackBerry Live 2013 - BBM - BBM Channels - 009

BlackBerry is still very much in the middle of a reorganization, a turnaround that even CEO John Chen says has a 50 percent chance of working. As we recently saw with Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, there’s clearly value left in a standalone chat client like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). Waterloo has to find a way to turn that into a revenue stream, though, and one option might be to sell a more advanced version of the chat service to enterprise customers – a plan that’s in line with BlackBerry’s plans to re-focus its efforts on the enterprise as a whole.

According to Re/Code, BlackBerry is considering a “more secure and unaudited version of BBM” that it could charge enterprise customers to use. In other words, you may one day walk into your office and find that your IT department prefers all chat messages be passed between you and your colleagues through BBM, instead of SMS or another platform. Likewise, BlackBerry is also eyeing ways to generate new revenue from its consumer platform.

We’ve argued that it could add new features and charge a few bucks for them through in-app purchases. For now, however, it’s going to focus on sponsored channels and selling stickers – which typically come in the form of larger or animated emoticons, and mobile payments. BlackBerry has been known for its security, and it hopes it can leverage that to expand a trial mobile payment service to new markets. The service is being tested now in Indonesia, Re/Code said.

“There isn’t a single monetization model here that needs to ubiquitously work or be forced on things,” BlackBerry’s BBM business development senior director David Proulx told Re/Code. Still, BlackBerry wants exiting users to know that it’s not going to fundamentally change the ease of use of the service, one of the reasons consumers use it in the first place. “At no point will we compromise the utility of BBM,” Proulx said.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...