BBM success won't guarantee BlackBerry's future

BlackBerry's next project, BBM Channels, will make the messaging service more like social media platforms where users can broadcast their messages widely, says analyst Shane Schick.

Analyst says even if BBM is profitable, it won't secure the company's long-term financial health

BlackBerry's next endeavour, BBM Channels, will make the company's messaging service more like other social media platforms, but revenue streams will be "incremental" said Shane Schick, editor-at-large for IT World Canada.

"BBM Channels would be expanding that kind of service and making more like something people have used with things like Tumblr or Twitter, where you can send out messages to the world at large or people who want to follow you," said Schick in an interview with The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Monday. 

"So it basically taking that peer-to-peer conversation and turning into a social networking service," he said. 

Last week, BlackBerry announced that BBM Channels would offer a way for the company to monetize its BBM service, by providing tailored ads to individual users based on their preferences and usage habits. 

"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 Andrew Bocking, executive vice-president of BBM, in an interview with The Morning Edition on October 25. 

BBM Channels is now in beta testing and it's not yet clear when it will be made widely available. 

"They haven't given a firm date but the gossip and rumour is that is it's expected to exit beta very soon. It could be a couple of weeks," said Schick. 

As for revenue generated by BBM Channels, Schick thinks the revenue to BlackBerry will be "incremental."

"I don't think this is a company that's expecting [BBM Channels] to provide its long-term future," he said. "BlackBerry is a lot more than a mobile chat messaging company."

BlackBerry could acquire another company, says analyst

Schick said BlackBerry is far more likely to seek long-term profits in technologies that allow corporations and governments to communicate and transmit data securely, which is the smartphone maker's traditional business model. 

While recent talk within the industry has been dominated by anticipation that BlackBerry will be bought out by another company, Shick noted BlackBerry could still surprise everyone. 

"BlackBerry could make an acquisition of its own," he said. "Despite all its trouble, BlackBerry has a lot of cash and very little debt. I think that would be an interesting strategy for them."


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