Wildly popular BBM chat service to remain free
BlackBerry exec says company to 'monetize' the BBM app through advertising
Millions of Apple and Android users who are enjoying what some have called BlackBerry's "forbidden fruit" can rest easy with the knowledge that BBM, the company's mobile instant messaging chat service, will remain free for the foreseeable future.
"It's definitely a free service," Andrew Bocking, executive vice-president of BBM for BlackBerry told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Friday. "We have other ideas on how to monetize that service."
Bocking said BBM will turn a profit through a combination of marketing and advertising through some yet-to-be-launched features, such as BBM Channels.
BBM Channels is a social networking feature currently in beta testing. Once up and running, it would allow users to amass followers and share content as well as allow BlackBerry to tailor and target ads towards individual users.
"We continue to plan to evolve the service and keep making it more engaging and have more reasons why people will come back to use the service," said Bocking.
Video and voice chatting services for BBM, which are currently available to BlackBerry users only, is also coming soon to the Apple and Android platforms "within months," Bocking said.
The launch of BBM on competing platforms has been largely seen by analysts as an attempt to secure new revenue streams for BlackBerry as it tries to regain its footing in a global smartphone market that many credit the Waterloo-based technology company for inventing.
"This is one we're definitely investing in, this is definitely one of our key strategies, but it's one of many," he said.
Until this week, BBM was only available to BlackBerry users and the buzz surrounding BBM's launch has been considerable, with six million users pre-registering for the app.
On Tuesday, BlackBerry boasted that its BBM app had been downloaded 10 million times on Apple and Android devices in the first 24 hours after its launch.