Can BBM steal Snapchat’s user base?

By Chris Umiastowski on 21 Nov 2013 01:35 pm EST

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:

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.

Reader comments

Can BBM steal Snapchat’s user base?


True, they can but they're not doing much. They went cross-platform (well multi-platform to be more precise) only a month ago when they could have been the defacto standard for mobile messaging should they made the move two years ago.

Snapchat is getting a high valuation even if no revenue (much like Twitter) because these platform have a huge growth potential since they are embraced by younger generation which are the consumers of tomorrow.

No, they are getting a high valuation because interest rates are low, many companies are flat, and investment managers have to put high risk money into <i>something</i>

Another feature BBM should add, and I would imagine they are working on this... it the features they got from acquiring You could make a calendar appointment within a group, or invite others BBM users not just those in a group and it would automatically give an option of the best 3 appointments where all parties would be available to meet.

I don’t understand why blackberry acquired all these companies and has barely integrated many of their features…

Well let's cut them some slack they are still figuring out how to market the z10.

And... yknow... the Porsche phone.

Posted via CB10

Currently BBM doesnt do much. Picture sharing is a disaster and so damn frustrating I find myself choosing MMS over it.

The fact it compresses the picture down to a blurry mess, and then the user has to request a higher version is a huge problem. And most people dont do it, therefor they are stuck with low quality experience.

Also multi person chats cant share pictures, only voice notes. You have to form a group chat and then post the pictures into the pictures box. Frustrating and not very efficient jumping around the app

BBM picture messaging is brilliant. Two things. It get there faster and protects my personal property. I don't necessarily want everybody to have a full res copies of my photos to do whatever they want with. If the receiver requests the full size file, then I can put more thought into it. It's protecting your personal content, and that's why we have BlackBerrys.

Sad but true. You can have a secure platform, or you can have a successful platform, but not both in one. Nobody seems to care about their personal content or anonymity anymore.

"Also multi person chats cant share pictures, only voice notes. You have to form a group chat and then post the pictures into the pictures box. Frustrating and not very efficient jumping around the app."

+1. This basically makes the service a non-starter for me. I had gotten a few iPhone friends onto BBM and we were using it for a few weeks, but the inability to send pictures in multi-person chats has driven us mostly back to MMS. Instead of functioning primarily as a distribution list, groups in BBM are more of a hangout or forum. Not a bad idea, but not an adequate replacement for multi-user chats. If I want to send a silly picture or something to a few people, I don't want to "post" that picture to a group.

I agree, the sooner the better. But it also needs to be polished and amazing when they release it. I'm holding off on the beta but I can't wait to see it.

Posted via CB10

Don't hold off. Channels is amazing. I'm on it many many times a day from humour to wallpapers to auto stuff and on and on.

From my Vader Zed

This is not a half bad idea. Instead of "liking" a business, the business can set up a BBM Channels. "Fans" could then, possibly, order services through BBM Channels with the companies pin. I mean, BBM is already on the path to becoming a generic Google+, anyways. Might as well go all the way. Alongside +1 and Like, there could also be a Pin.

If they can add it quickly, great. If they end up not being the first to build it and are playing catch up, then that's going to hurt big.

Posted via CB10

Excuse my ignorance but what exactly is an "exploding message" or "self destructive message"? One that deletes itself eventually?

Posted via CB10

It's a pic or message which disappears from the recipients phone after a set time frame. Mind you the pic or message can still be caught by a screen shot.

If people use it for security purposes, how great is it if it's easily counteracted by taking a screenshot of the photo?

Posted via CB10

Yeah I never understood this phenomenon. A screen shot eliminates the whole purpose of snap chat.

But, the consume is always right, no matter how dumbass they are. BBM should have this feature

Posted via CB10

Actually, if you take a screenshot in snap chat, the sender is immediately notified that a screenshot has been taken. Pursuant action is then dependent on the sender.

all you have to do is use another camera to take the picture of the screen and that gets around that though! lol

As I understand it, a message cannot be snooped upon by a third set of eyes, if the message has been opened. If you're worried about the receiving party memorializing it by a screen shot, then maybe snapchat is not the way to go (nothing would be.)

There is already an app for BBM that allows you to send a picture to other BBM's that will not allow screen shots and cannot be forwarded and can be set to dissappear at a set time. If you try screen shot it disappears instantly.
Secret Pictures blackberry world.

Posted via CB10

I think you are the only one in the universe that knows about such an app...

Posted via CB10

As I understand it, if you do screen shot it, the sender is advised.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30 (STA100-5 /

I'd never heard of snap chat until I got an email from my son's school telling us to advise our kids to be wary of snap chat as there were instances of children sending pictures that they thought would destruct but were immediately copied and widely distributed on the Web!!

Posted via CB10

It is a way to send "sexy" pictures, I love you's, or threats without fear of it being passed along and shared to others.

Ohh it's that app where pics disappear. Sounds like it's targeted at sex pests. So people who want to keep the disappearing image use a second phone to take a Snap of it ?

The more people on the BBM train the better so I'd hope so.


Posted via my CB Q10

No, it's not really about anything lewd that I've seen. It's kind of like talking with someone: when you speak your words exist, someone hears them, and then they're gone. If you want a message that "sticks around," send and email, SMS/MMS, or write them a letter. lol

Very interesting indeed. If BBM added this feature in with voice, video, and channels in would be bomb!

Posted via CB10

Yes, BBM channels needs to come out of beta soon, and voice/video cross-platform asap. But they may have to keep some good things to announce at what most likely will be a terrible earnings report. 10.2.1 probably can't come soon enough afterwards either.

I agree. Exploding messages would be a great feature for the cross platform app in addition to the standard BlackBerry BBM feature set. I think they might as well also add an Intragram-like photo sharing feature to BBM to cover all their bases. BBM Channels does not count because it's more like Tumblr.

I've been wanting bbm to do this for years. Sending pi s can be fun and flirty but it sucks if you don't stay with that person and you have hard pictures out there.

Posted via CB10

It can be circumvented by simply taking a screen capture of the picture before it expires. It's a pretty dumb concept, made for the easily amused.

Posted via CB10

Thank you......its a complete waste of time and worse is totally misleading!

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

Sender's fault not doing extensive research on the app in the first place and parents's fault for not adding restrictions of what type of apps they can download. I find it extremely amusing to use when wanting to show something to a friend that isnt there with me. Also, snapchat adds some personlization to our messages, we all try to do it in skme ways by adding emoticons.

So, how about instead the ability to remotely detonate any picture sent and any copy of that picture at any point in time from your own phone?

I told some folks at BlackBerry they could easily have an amazing killer on their hands if they added SnapChat and Skype functionality to BBM. They already have secure servers and no storage which should make SnapChat an easy add. Look at how many wifi to land line calling apps are also out there. Should also be easy to add to BBM if fly by night companies can do it. The response wasn't what I hoped to hear. We need an even louder voice to reach John Chen.

SnapChat and Skype, added with existing BBM calls, BBM screen share, BBM Channels, BBM money (hopefully in other regions) and you have a truly must have product.

Posted via CB10

Yuppp people love conversations with/about pictures. I am thinking BBM with picture sharing capabilities just like Wechat with its "moments". Isn't it a cool idea for BBM?

Posted via CB10

Chris, can you get a hold of whoever is in charge of bbm development so they can hire you as a external industry advisor.

These are all suggestions that seems pretty straight forward but I'm not sure wtf the bbm group is doing about them. Yet again they're going to fall behind and let a golden opportunity slip away.

Is there no one at bbm who wants to make bbm an ALL INCLUSIVE Messaging client, which features all manner of communication, from text, voice, video to exploding pictures and tap2talk (like voxer).

Seriously who do i have to kill to make sure someone actually listens to what the market wants??

Posted via CB10

Wanting something as a fan is one thing, but those in charge know things that fans do not. Such as, the feasibility of even adding these features. Besides, BBM going cross-platform has successfully moved BBM from BlackBerry handsets. It reality, BBM is now its own thing which should become more evident over the next year if BB does not screw it up.

I wasn't an Instagram user... but I tried it and found nice ... bbm must make pic sharing really easy

Posted via the awesome keyboard on Z10STL100-1/ using CB10 App

I agree that picture sharing needs to be easier on BBM, but turning BBM into a picture sharing app would also require a user profile and folder to display and share those pics. Otherwise the capability just becomes a gloried MMS client. And who would really care about that?

The comment that if bbm doesn't have these destroyable messages features it will fall further behind whatsapp is complete nonsense. Whatsapp is ahead in users, but features it clearly isn't. Its whatsapp that needs to catch up with bbm considering it's a bbm clone anyway and charges for the app on certain platforms when bbm is free. What's app has no social platform like BBM Channels, no voice or video calls, no screen share and doesn't have the security features or reliability of BBM.

All whatsapp has over BBM is more emoticons which is being addressed in future builds and push to talk which really isn't a killer feature like channels, video/voice calls etc. If bbm gets push to talk, great but if it doesn't it's not a deal breaker nothing that you can't really do from voice note just slightly quicker.

I would suggest it's whatsapp that needs to catch and innovate not BBM.

BlackBerry owner since 2004. Currently rocking white Z10; Black Q10 & 64gb PlayBook

Everything you just said.... doesn't matter and you even said why it doesn't matter... "Whatsapp is ahead in users". You can extol the virtues of BBM until you're blue in the face, if the user base isn't ahead of others and folks aren't continuing to adopt it then it's all irrelevant even if I do agree with you that BBM is better than WhatsApp.

I'm sure (or hope) snap chat has some sort of patent for the concept (although even inspector gadget was publicly available more than a year before smart phones--and thus snap chat-- existed)...

Posted via CB10

I have been thinking about this for a while, ive been trying to find out who to contact about it, I have even drawn up exactly how it should work. If I could talk to Andrew Blocking for even 5 mins, I could outline an awesome way for BBM to implement exploding messages.

Posted via CB10

No. People won't ever leave SnapChat for BBM.

I love the optimism BlackBerry users have but sometimes it's just ridiculous.

Posted via CB10

A drowning man will grap at any straw...


On paper BBM could & should be big! But the distance between and idea and a finished product is somtimes much futher than one would at first imagine. This is MOBILE NATIONS, go vist some of the "foregin" platforms in their fourms and see what they are saying about BBM at this point.

The people who I know that use Snapchat are in the or teens or early twenties in the U.S. I can't see any of them wanting to use BBM, because they are all on WhatsApp, Hangouts, iMessage or Viber. I think the demographics are different from people who used BBM in the past and might want to use it again versus many younger people who never used it and aren't very interested in doing so.

If BBM wants to appeal to those older users, they should take out an ad in a printed phone book or advertise it on AM talk radio... lol

Commenting on your first sentense, excuse my ignorance, Chris, but public or private, every company wants to boost their valuations. Stock price is a different ball of wax that most often doesn't even come close to reflecting actual value of the company. In the case of Apple, it's way too high - in case of BlackBerry, way too low.
I can't believe BBM would be valued at next to nothing, but analysts attribute it to zero to justify their ridiculous price valuations. It's simply appalling - and you echo this same sentiment.
Anyway, my point is, public or private, BlackBerry has a lot of work to do to show real value from their portfolio of assets. I like Chen's comments: they can! And I believe they will.

Release channels, get big name companies and sports teams on board it'd sure to take off. Push to talk like voxer but with a BlackBerry twist on it would be nice

Sent via Zed10

I was looking at some pictures that my friends shared on the BBM Group Chat & how we are able to comment on each of these pictures separately. He was surprised & liked it so he asked me what app is it?

When I took him it's BBM the reaction went ooh.... then totally lost interest.

Well I've been getting notifications of new apps & new app updates not sure how that comes in. Maybe it is pin or maybe it's something else. BlackBerry definitely can do it.

Posted via CB10

Seeing as Blackberry is built on security, I doubt the exploding message will be implemented, or for sure not anytime soon. Why would they want to add a feature that deceives people into thinking their pics or message are safe, when taking a screenshot on your phone is one of the easiest things to do, with many phones accessible by quick and easy button press.

No, I think there's other features that could be added that would be more useful, and even more exciting. Why play catchup if you can come up with something more innovating? Now Blackberry, you better deliver, the world is counting on you.

The real killer feature would be to not deceive people and make the safety of that content ACTUALLY secure. Instead of false hope, make it a genuine reality.

Yes, I wouldn't argue against that. To do that would be relatively easy if it wasn't cross platform. I'm not a coder, but it just seems like it would take a while and be an extra challenge to ensure compliance on a multi OS enviroment, when that OS is out of Blackberry's control. It just seems un-Blackberry to release something like this unless it was totally fool-proof.

+1. Simply the ability to (a) send pics by BBM easily, including in group chat please, and (b) set a Time To Live on any BBM message including pics -- while (c) disabling screen shots. That would be awesome.

Most younger people who use Snapchat don't care about security I don't think. That's a dead selling point. First, any phone's network traffic can probably be most easily intercepted to and from a provider, not the phone. This makes sense for mass intercept of traffic that all the foil-hat-wearing people on CB are concerned with. Second, even if BlackBerry phones are more secure than the others (for the sake of argument), this doesn't seem to be a major selling point or concern with users--otherwise BlackBerry would be "selling like hell." lol The "security feature" appeals to the hobbyist/tinkerer niche most likely, but there really aren't many of these folks. Look at the recent IDC numbers. BlackBerry sales were about 4.4 million or so, down from over 7 million a year ago? The old arguments and sales pitches need to be abandoned, otherwise BlackBerry is doomed.

Add snapchat capabilities to BBM, but allow the sender to restrict screen shots on the receiving end. That would EPIC! Something BlackBerry is in dire need of.

Posted via CB10

Most people have access to a second camera phone so the exploding pics feature is just a gimmick.

If BlackBerry came up with the idea it would be called more than a gimmick.

Posted via my CB Q10

The only way to add this feature would be also to build in that screen shots do not work if an expolding/selfdestruct message is on the screen.

Do a quick Google for snap chat pics and Google returns loads of sites where people sent nakie selfies (look at me, down with the kids on the lingo) and they got screen shot and published.

Posted via CB10

I think BES can stop screenshots from being taken on some documents / screens so it's easily done.

Posted via my CB Q10

You guys should be careful with Snapchat. People are screenshoting those "pictures" and uploading them into be careful kids hahah!

Posted via CB10

i seriously doubt anyone at waterloo is putting their brain to work right now.
the company under the ex-ceo took a huge blow to morale as well as creativity. Focus was on all the wrong things and the magic is gone.
i do not expect anything major to happen to BBM although i would definitely welcome all of the above ideas.

I was told if you send a PIN to PIN message and if both parties delete the message after reading the message, the message is fully deleted and or un traceable !

True or Not ?

Posted via CB10

Lol it would be a good feature to have but it won't steal any user base. Snapchat continues to evolve well. Stories has been well received so far from what I can tell.

Posted via CB10

BBM needs the following IMO

1. Ability to send files w/o restrictions (filesize) especially on WIFI (give me a warning regarding data usage)
2. Ability to send FULL HQ pics w/o requesting for Hi-Res (at least turn it on by default and have option to send Lower quality) and ability to send Multiple Pics @ same time
3. Voice/Video/Screenshare for ios/android
4. Integrate snapchat capability into BBM
5. Push to Talk (PTT)
6. Integrate channels

(Down the road)
7. BBM Money - I like the idea of being able to send money to a friend over bbm (maybe connect it to EMT or w/e)

That's all that comes to mind right now

I've read that file sharing and screen sharing aren't possible/very unlikely with iOS because of its architecture. Can anyone add to this/confirm this?

Great idea. Take it one more level and design it to run along side snap chat for non snapchatters but able to work with snap chat so bbm users can immediately snap with iPhone users.

Posted via CB10

I've personally wondered why BBM didn't quickly add

1) Picture, Video, document sharing support to Group messaging
2) Group video chat
3) Self destructing messages.
4) Sticker support

In that order. And heck self destructing messages in group chat would be neat too. (Each person's phone gets the picture/message and when BBM flips it to "R" mode it'll start a timer on the message).

You just have to take into account that bbm is great and that whatsapp took a huge advantage while they were developing bb10. I dont think that if they implement something similar to snapchat they are going to steal the users from it.
Id rather say that is better to develop a native app for BlackBerry users.

Posted via CB10

Bbm does need this but I'm worried about the copying. The last thing BlackBerry needs is another legal battle.

Maybe one of the ways to avoid the legal battle is to 100% prevent any screen capture along with the classic notification system. It should be enough to beat snapchat and attract more users to bbm.

Posted via CB10

Chris what about PIN to PIN messaging, if both parties delete a PIN message after reading it is untraceable from what I he

Posted via CB10

I've heard no noise from the BlackBerry camp regarding bbm since it's release. I'd like them to add the voice and video functionality and then advertise like gangbusters!

Never used gangbusters in a sentence before.



Didn't BBM originally have self destructing chats? I remember being on my pearl and swearing that other people were closing our chats.


Exploding msgs on BBM would definitely attract attention. Why hasn't anyone at BlackBerry started this project?

Posted via CB10

I say steal everything.

Facebook type profile and board,
Instagram channel per user,
Exploding messages,
Call to landline,
Friends map with augmented reality,
Blackboard type of channel for school,
Etc, etc.

Make BBM the everything app.

Posted via CB10

So BlackBerry wants to get users posting naked selfies (aka kiddie porn) ala Snap chat? What could possibly go wrong?

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

I thought they were monetizing with the BBM money service. I'd like to see them expand that and use it to create another revenue stream.

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible Q10!

I think one of the things bbm needs to catch up with is the low quality of pictures when you first send. I know that you're able to request for a higher quality picture, but shouldn't the initial version be at least a little less fuzzy and blur??

Posted via CB10

I tried to get the wife on BBM on her iPhone, but she won't use it, WhatsApp has the multi picture sending option and they save directly to the sd card, BBM does not have that feature, she said it's too difficult, so yes BBM need to upgrade the offering, including sending larger file sizes on videos.

Posted via CB10

Unless things have recently changed, the SnapChat images remain on the device - albeit in a hidden directory which a half-decent file browser can still access.
They don't actually disappear. Some makers of similar applications have sought to overcome this flaw by hosting the images online and then deleting them from a server (or denying access to the recipient) after a certain time period.
BlackBerry, with their own Web Servers are particularly well positioned to offer a reputable online image hosting service along these same lines and to also give an assurance which people will more likely trust.
If anyone still believes that SnapChat images somehow self-destruct (or "explode"), then I'd be more than happy to hear how this is achieved. Thanks.

Posted via CB10

What about PIN to PIN messaging.
I was told if both parties after they have read their PIN to PIN message and both delete the message on their devices the message is un traceable ?

Posted via CB10

Let me use my BBM which shows me as "John Smith, Verizon CFO" to send sellfies to potential lovers...
There is a reason people use different apps for different things. You don't have the same networks depending on what you do.

So until BBM or Whatsapp supports multiple profiles, I don't see them becoming any sort of threat to one pony trick apps.

Fix bbm first and maybe they will have the chance.. options are always good.

On The Underrated Z10 *

Yes, I believe they can (Sorry Snapchat). After all, this IS BBM we're talking about. Give it 3-4 months, and with some additional features, BBM will be the king of all the cross platform messaging system.

So the Snapchat CEO was a mission impossible fan. Exploding message. Lol. Hope his pipe dream explodes. These arrogant young bucks think they have created something revolutionary. No. Not really.

Posted via CB10

We should be able to send pics, videos, audios in bbm groups. Whatsapp is even better on this. Also the limit of file size should be extended. 6mb is very little. Whatsapp can send up to 15mb And I think they are getting better. Just think about a 6mb's shame that bbm can only send a totally poor quality video. And lets try if we can have pic album where we can have many pics than a a profile pic and make our friends like,comment. People will forget abt instagram here

Posted via CB10