With BlackBerry remaining a public company, a great number of us are obviously interested in what they can do to boost their valuation. As much as I hope they can sustain themselves as a mobile platform (software, services and handsets too), it’s a tough battle.
But BBM can survive even without BlackBerry as an independent platform. It’s now a cross platform (and still awesome) chat app. It has over 80 million users. It gets basically no value from Wall Street.
On the other hand, Snapchat is rumored to have turned away an all-cash bid of $3 billion from Facebook. Henry Blodget wrote this interesting piece which says Snapchat probably needs to grow to about $500 million in revenue in order to justify that kind of valuation. Snapchat probably has tens of millions of users, and apparently the average user shares 20-50 “snaps” per day. They plan to monetize, according to Blodget’s insider checks, by advertising and virtual goods. No surprise there.
Here’s the thing: These same ideas apply just as easily to BBM with the exception that BBM doesn’t yet have self-destructing message capabilities. I don’t know if it needs these features or not, but it may as well add them. My good friend Sutha Kamal pointed this out on Twitter yesterday:
Anyone else surprised that WhatsApp hasn't built an "exploding message" feature? Or BBM for that matter.— Sutha Kamal (@SuthaKamal) November 20, 2013
He’s right. Neither WhatsApp or BBM have done this, and if BBM doesn’t, it risks falling further behind since WhatsApp has shown itself to continually add new features.
I think Instagram and Snapchat have proven that people love to have conversations about pictures. So aside from exploding messages, I think BBM needs to make it super easy to take and send pictures. Make it a part of the app. Make it brain-dead easy
I don’t use Snapchat. But when I’m watching the teens and young adults on my wife’s side of the family they LOVE it. They’re addicted to it in the same way they used to be addicted to BBM.
If BBM bakes in the features that people already love, it should grow faster. And if it grows faster, it can start monetizing faster. If monetization leads to a few hundred million in additional revenue over time, BlackBerry shareholders reap the rewards.