Coke and Olympics BBM Channels doubled subscribers after cross-platform release

BBM Channels
By Simon Sage on 5 Mar 2014 01:57 pm EST

CrackBerry caught up with BBM's senior director of business development, David Proulx, at Mobile World Congress to talk about the week's announcement surrounding BlackBerry. In addition to touching on the Nokia preload announcement made at MWC, Proulx mentioned that the growth in Channels usership following the Android and iOS release was impressive — 100% in the case of the official Olympics and Coke channels.

"We actually have seen, case in point, Olympics or Coke. When we launched BBM channels on iOS and Android we saw doubling of subscriber bases for a lot of the sort of channels that I think are broadly interesting, or from broad development."

Beyond Channels, we breezed over the BBM 2.0 for iOS and Android that also introduced voice, quick sharing, and friend-finding. There was Gingerbread support added for Android. He then mentioned the Nokia X and Windows Phone announcement, and this is where Proulx provided a bit more clarity on what's going on. "Those Nokia announcements are significant because they're not just present on the platform. They're pre-load and co-marketing agreements."

A pre-load is a big deal, and signals BlackBerry's continued willingness to collaborate with partners, even if they're ostensibly competitors. One of the bigger complaints from iOS and Android users is that the user interface doesn't match the platform standard, and as Windows Phone users are especially particular about their UI, Proulx admitted that "We're going to start to implement more of those native controls and design elements to make it feel more at home on the platform."

The week's news also involved WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for a cool $16 billion. We're all aware of WhatsApp's humble beginnings as a BBM clone that happened to be cross-platform. BlackBerry's CEO John Chen openly admitted that he would sell BBM for that amount, and Proulx was equally congratulatory. "They obviously got an unprecedented exit. The sheer value of that transaction is remarkable." Proulx also said this bodes well for the sector BBM is participating in; there's money to be made here, equally demonstrated by Rakuten's acquisition of Viber, but the revenue stream here is still squarely in the realm of "potential".

"It's going to create some interesting opportunities in the market for the rest of us, inasmuch as there need to be counter-moves from everybody who's not Facebook and WhatsApp, whether you're a telco, whether you're another big consumer Internet player, whether you're one of the standalone mobile messaging platforms, in order to differentiate and stand apart."

Proulx went on to say that the things BBM is going to be doing to make money are going to be different than what WhatsApp will need to do in order to justify Facebook's massive purchase. BBM has been experimenting in enterprise with a custom-built messaging solution and on the consumer side with stickers. On stickers in particular, Proulx was excited because virtual goods are becoming a "core part of the communication experience".

Those are the broad strokes of our chat with Proulx on Channels and BBM. Is there anything you guys are still wondering about the Nokia partnership? How well are Channels doing, from what you've seen?

Reader comments

Coke and Olympics BBM Channels doubled subscribers after cross-platform release


There is no such thing as a 2nd place winner. It means you were the first loser.

But don't worry...those who shout first are the first losers.

Posted via CB10

Wow. A lot of winners here tossing around the 'loser' label.

You're using the 4th place phone ecosystem. Even Coke only managed to double their channels subscribers after moving cross platform. Chen is right... this is a coin toss play.


Posted via CB10

So will the next iOS and Android update bring a more native UI as well? Or is it only for Windows phone?

Posted via CB10

i'm really hoping at some point in time they do decide to bring the native feel to android and ios, and i hope they do it soon.

I really enjoy channels when I remember to read them. Since I do all my messaging from the hub u sometimes even forget to go into the BBM app to check for updates.

Actually this is one place where I'd like a separate icon with a spark for updates on my first page of apps.

Posted via CB10

Channels gives me notifications in the hub for new posts to Channels I've favorited (1step to my comment and ability to reply) and of comments added to posts I've commented on. Increases engagement vs. CB app : going to app, opening app, finding post, scrolling down comments to find my own comments, replying to any who have replied to my comment.

Posted via CB10

+1 I'd love to be notified when I get a reply to my comment on whatever article I have participated in and to be taken to that reply. I still go to CB before Channels, but that may change as the habit of checking out Channels continues.

Posted via CB10

Actually I go to Channels updates first thing in the morning while having coffee and even check out all CB related channels that I follow, before visiting the actual CB site.

Don't get me started again on my one man crusade to have a dedicated launch icon for BBM Channels. It would still take you in to BBM when you press it, but it would get you in to the guts of Channels in just one push. Why does no one else see this!?

Posted via CB10

I thought a huge part about BBM was to bring BB10 like UI to other phones? To let the other platforms have a taste of BB10?

that was a poor excuse because they were being lazy and cheap and DIDNT want to pay a developer to make their BBM apps for ios/android

I guess i didn't see it like that.

I saw it as: here is a taste of BB10, come to our platform.

Its Coca Cola Indonesia, its official but only for that part of the world and that language
I was hoping it was the Global Coca Cola, the one in english that serves North America , Europe , etc

HaHa!! If you want to check out how Olympic Games Channel progressed day to day and see where they doubled then check out an article by James..How to follow Sochi 2014 winter games from your Blackberry... I followed it day by day and posted the increase in Sub's every day,Scroll down and you will find 15 comments 1 after another,must be a record,haha!!The first time it doubled most probably was because of the men's hockey,check it out..Final count was 74+thousand ,they now have 73,931,couple of hundred have left since then,not bad for 2 weeks.

JojoB- where are you from? Asking because of a phrase you use that I've only heard in Louisiana (little bit in other deep South) : ". . . most probably . . ."

Posted via CB10

@DocDRM..I'm from Quebec and I use It all the time,Let's say I see 2 women,now the one on the left I Probably could hook up with her, but the one on the right is the one I Most Probably would hook up with,HaHa.LOL

Well - it's the Cajuns i hear say it down here so you being Qbecker makes the connection. Must be that Frenchy thing!!!!

So far BBM channels has been pretty interesting. Glad to see subscriptions jumping like that for the big brands.

I must admit, I don't use them to their full potential. Going to go and play around in them for a while, maybe find a news channel that will train me to check the updates more often.

Posted via CB10

Thank you. If BlackBerry commands 1% of the market and the other two 94% those subscriber numbers should have jumped astronomically. Not just doubled.

I like channels and use it quite a bit.

Things I would like to see

1. Make it easier to find channels. Have things like Trending, Most Popular and Recommend categories.

2. Use the Featured area to highlight channels doing AMA's... i should be able to go to BBM channels and find this out easily without a reminder from CB

Give me these two things and I will then be very impressed

Posted via CB10

Do you think channels need hashtags just like twitter? For searching purposes.

ॐ BBM channeling at C003910CB (Tiger Daddy)

Yes, I think anything to improve searching would be helpful. Search is not fine enough (but does tend to rank the more relevant finds at the top.)

People are using the #, but of course that still takes us to Twitter, and ought to remain that way probably.

Some have suggested using * for the 'splat'-mark, maybe if we all start doing that, they'll take notice and incorporate it somehow.

Is the look of bbm really that off putting for android and it's users?

I can maybe understand the need to change it a little for windows phone.

Maybe it's just me but I don't particularly find the Holocaust design all that special. But that's probably the same for those who look at bbm and those use to holo.

Bit I can say with confidence that I would prefer a native design over the ones I've side loaded on my device.

They are UI-challenged. Had a friend tell me that. He's an Android user. I for myself find Android inconsistent, especially on Samsung.

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

i find it quite off putting. the UI is bulky looking, the text is small. i thought the point of bbm was messaging, yet the ui is all in my face.

What is missing, for me anyway, with the big brands or company, is a direct communication with that brand or company. A direct line to that company, with a personal approach.
If they were to use Bbm as it was intended, direct communication with their customer, as an individual, then I think it would be interesting.

Posted via CB10

I wonder whose Channel will be the first to have 500000 subscriber and then first to hit 1million. :)

The Bbm channel has been over 500k for awhile now.

It's the only one that I am aware of though.

Posted via CB10

Oh really? Thanks for the info.
EDIT: I just checked and can't find the channel you are talking about. What's the name or the channel #.

You want to know why BBM is struggling for market share as a great app that is being ignored? On BlackBerry's official BBM channel, look at any article and 99% of comments are not related to article. It's join my channel, it's safe, p.m. Me join ME! No enforcement of communication being related to article that's posted. Share this if you agree. No point in destroying a great app.

Posted via CB10

I'm with you, BlackBerry's own channel and BBM 's channel are both so saturated with spam it's sickening. I don't understand why BlackBerry doesn't remove the spam! What's the point of having a channel if you only let it become overrun with meaningless spam!

Posted via CB10

I'm kind of digging Channels. Didn't know what to make of it at first, but I like its potential.

My subscribers almost doubled too! From 6 to 11! I consider it a personal success, considering the topic is the musician Kate Bush, and there's not a heck of a lot to talk about these days, just her oeuvre. Wish I had more time to spend on it, but I'm thinking of a few directions it could go. But nowhere on the scale of CB and "The Clewley" obviously!

I don't know about you but the big news in Simon's post, IMO is BBM being preloaded on Nokia devices (news to me). Not only that but the fact BlackBerry wants to streamline their UI & general mobile experience to be more like.... a windows PC experience?? Not necessarily a bad thing & possibly an alteration from their original mobile computing vision Thor used to talk about. I think a deeper collaboration with MS might be VERY interesting in a good way, which keeps BlackBerry unique but also more familiar from a PC standpoint.
Also.... channels rock! I'm constantly checking them.

Posted via CB10

Considering BB's current tiny market share relative to iOS and Android, a mere doubling of subscribers strikes me as very limited market penetration for Channels, though overall it's hard to judge success or failure until tracked over time. If it's still at double or even just triple a year from now, I don't think anyone will consider that a great success.

Posted via CB10

Ok, since you asked. I have a question:

When is Nokia going to sell their hardware loaded with BB(12?)?

Would be good for the consumer-side of BlackBerry IMO.

My channel traffic increased by 400% when it was somehow specially featured in Saudi Arabia. Now I'm getting more and more chats, comments and readers added daily. The gross numbers are still less than a 100 but it is growing rapidly.

Posted via CB10

I actually found this surprising. I didn't think the android or iPhone users would embrace channels as much. Not bad! Now, if only I could get my channels some subscriptions :P

Yay! This makes me terribly happy! BlackBerry deserves it. IPhone/Android maybe more popular these days, but BlackBerry is by far and away the best ever.

Posted via CB10