Game on: Google search trends shows BBM has a real shot at scoring in the multi-platform Instant Messaging game

By Kevin Michaluk on 25 Sep 2013 02:30 pm EDT

Long time readers of CrackBerry know I'm a big fan of analytics and have often looked to Google Trends to gain insight into the demand for things like phones and apps. For the most part, looking at Google Trends data over the years has provided a pretty good representation of actual demand over time in the mobile realm, especially when comparing multiple items in a similar category.

With BBM's almost-launch this weekend, I was waiting for Google Trends date to come in so we could get a first impression of how it stands to fare against other multi-platform competitors in the mobile instant messaging space, including the likes of WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat and Snapchat. We know BBM has a large existing install base on BlackBerry Smartphones to the tune of 60 million active users, and we know this past weekend it drove over 1 million downloads on iOS/Android before the launch was halted. The almost-launch also caused a nice big spike on Google Trends.

* Important to note when searching Google Trends for BBM related data, you NEED to search for bbm + "blackberry messenger" if you want an accurate representation. If you only search for BlackBerry Messenger you will miss out on a lot of data - in the last 24 months BBM has greatly outgrown the legacy BlackBerry Messenger name. *

Looking at trailing 12 month and 90 days stats both worldwide and in the US, WhatsApp is definitely in a leadership position. Globally, Snapchat is still pretty quiet, though it has a seen a lot of growth in the US over the past 90 days, now outpacing Whatsapp on Google Trends (of course Snapchat isn't exactly your typical IM client, but it's still interesting to note it's uptake in use within the US). 

BBM has held steady alongside Viber and WeChat the past year, which if you consider that BBM has only been on BlackBerry and that Viber and WeChat are on multiple platforms, you'd expect maybe that Viber and WeChat would be outpacing BBM by a large margin at this point time. However, that doesn't seem to be the case, and looking at the BIG spike this weekend coming on the back of the news that BBM will be also be available on Android and iOS, I think it shows that as BBM hits multiple platforms we are going to see a sold step up for demand. Of course, there's some short term pain as we wait for it to re-launch -- and hopefully no real harm will come from the delay -- but I do believe you'll see BBM get off to a solid growth curve once again as it officially goes mult-platform.

When you jump into the worldwide trends and look at the hot regions for these IM clients, you'll see that for WhatsApp, BBM, WeChat and Viber that a lot of the top regions are outside of North America. For example, BBM's top region is Indonesia. For WhatsApp, the top region is Zimbabwe, followed by Ghana. Looking at that, it sort of makes sense why BlackBerry and Samsung did a deal to bring BBM to Samsung Android devices in Africa - they'll be able to go head to head here against WhatsApp as a test. Could be that if this relationship proves successful that we'll see Samsung continue this support in other regions, which would bode well for BBM. 

Be sure to check out the graphs below and click over to Google Trends on the links provided where you can play with the filters and search terms. I spent a quite a bit of time in there playing around, comparing also to other clients I didn't mention (you can only fit 5 into a comparison) like GroupMe and Google Hangouts, though these two clients trend really low.

Bottom line, while you can't take Google Trends 100% as the bible on this sort of thing, it definitely serves as a solid barometer of gaging interest and on that front and based on the existing BBM user base and legacy and recent trends data I think BBM is going to see some steady growth as it makes it way onto more platforms. Remember, BBM is not starting from scratch - it already has 60 million users on BlackBerry, and those users are going to help spread the word to their iPhone and Android using friends. They have a head start in building up that oh sooo important network effect. I'm not sure what BlackBerry's goals are, but I can't help but think if they had 50 million Android users and 50 million iPhone users over the next few months they'll head into 2014 really competing in this space, scoring a couple of goals in the short term and in the longer term winning the game.

Global - Trailing 12 months

View on Google Trends

Global - Trailing 90 days

View on Google Trends

USA - Trailing 12 months

View on Google Trends

USA - Trailing 90 days

View on Google Trends

Global - Since 2004

View on Google Trends

BBM vs BlackBerry Messenger

View on Google Trends



Win a Free BlackBerry Z30, iPhone 5S/5C or your Android phone of choice as we wait for BBM. All you have to do is follow @crackberrykevin on twitter and tweet out the following phrase:

Follow @crackberrykevin & RT this to win a new BlackBerry, Android or iPhone when @BBM is available! #bbmcontest

Once BBM hits for Android and iOS, I'll pick a winner at random and DM them with details on choosing which phone they want to purchase. It's as simple as that. Let's spread the BBM word! Be sure to keep it locked to for more news on BBM (you can follow @bbm and sign up for updates at too!). Good luck!

Reader comments

Game on: Google search trends shows BBM has a real shot at scoring in the multi-platform Instant Messaging game


Awesome but they need to ensure it works. In its current state, BBM is unreliable when sending to iPhone. I'm astonished at how they released such an unreliable app.

Cool. Love the graphs. Even taking into consideration the whole fiasco from BBM4ALL launch (or lack thereof) I can really see BBM displacing most if not all cross platform messengers. Sadly, there boatloads of former BB users who have jumped ship but would absolutely love to have access to their favourite IM from their once beloved BB device. Whatsapp has done an incredible job but the one fundamental flaw is phone number vs PIN. I feel better handing out my PIN than phone number. In the event I made a bad character judgement I can block the offending party and that would be that -- removing the possibility of getting text messages or calls. Through BBID the sharing and discovering of BBM contacts has made the experience that much better on my z10.

Tweeted. Interesting that WhatsApp is so popular in Ghana, I definitely didn't know that... thanks for the info, Kevin!

Posted via CB10 on my white Z10 & lovin' it!

Lol. Contest was an after thought... but seemed like a fun thing to do. Will do a dedicated post to the contest later.

In the meantime, still a good insight. Hopefully the trends turn into downloads!

NO WAY! This will limit it to those who either:
a) Actually read your articles
b) Actually follow you on twitter
c) Give a damn about BBM

Plus it'll keep the numbers down so I actually have a chance at winning!

On a side note: When you guys say (for example) "leave a comment why BBM is the best" do you actually read the comments or is it at randomn? I ask because a lot of folks leave comments that have nothing to do with the instructions while I ensure I follow them to the tee as well as try to make them kinda witty or thoughtful. Just wondering... Keep rocking Kevin!

Having it in twitter already keeps the numbers down because the anti-twitterites, like me can't play. :'(

Posted via my sexy-ass Z10 running ON A BOAT!!!

I'm not anti-twitter but I don't have one. Can we join using Facebook? Anyway, Since I love BlackBerry and I wan to win a z30 so badly, I will make one and join!!! #TeamBlackberry

Id like to win something, that would be awesome but man how do you choose what phone you want!? It be between Z30 or a One Max if it's out yet.

Sneaky contest. I don't have Twitter Fritter. Useless.

--Q10 and Canadian all the way! Posted via CB10 on #IChooseBlackBerry10

This is all nice and dandy but they need to release it, would have, could have, would be
No more excuses GET THE DAMN THING OUT

Posted via CB10

I think I fit into the category of those who have been most patient with BB and giving them the benefit of the doubt in the face of all the FUD. But getting this fresh attempt at a multi-platform launch of BBM right just might be their last chance. They simply cannot fumble the ball on it a second time in two weeks.

Really: I'm rooting for BB against all the odds, but *No more mistakes in execution allowed from here forward.*

My 3 teenage kids are still patiently waiting for BBM for their iPhones. As previous BB users, they know it's worth the wait. They have mentioned that their friends are also eager to load it up too.

For me there has never been any question of BBM's potential marketshare. The real question is how it will translate into monetization, revenue and profits.

Posted via CB10 on Z10

Damn, I don't do twitter. You should just do the usual "comment on this post competition." I would probably pick up a new DROID or iPhone just to see what it's all about. It's been a while since I've played with one. The only reason I wouldn't get a z30 is because ei have a z10 and love it, don't need a bigger screen. Would like to do personal comparison though to iPhone or Android. Plus my friend needs a phone so when in done I would give it to him. But since it's twitter, oh well, next time.

Posted via CB10

Nice... I'm eager to see what will be the case once Channels, voice, and video are part of the package... looks like a force to be reckoned with IMHO

Posted via CB10

Thanks for the article Kevin, and for the possibility of a Z30... My lovely ladyfriend would inherit my Z10, a nice step up from her 9300...

I'm not too used to Google Analytics; can you explain the letters on the graphs?

Yea it does oh wait bbry is dead and blew the summer launch with more lies. Fuck bbry

Posted via CB10

They don't want to release this now. Have you seen the stock today? It's doing exactly what they want it to do. Releasing BBM would only increase it. They want us to think that us shareholders are getting a good deal when they give us 9 bucks. If we get even that.

Posted via CB10

As a shareholder, this is an angle I never considered. I certainly hope that this isn't the case.

I'd love to win a Z30, I would not even consider an iPhone or Android so # IChooseBlackBerry10 all the way

Z10 OS

How do you find "SnapChat" friends? I have a feeling they would be interesting people :P

Posted via CB10

Confidant BBM will be a big success. I just don't want to see it get spun off on its own in some BlackBerry break up. No indication of that, for now.

Posted via my BlackBerry Z10

Other BlackBerry Blogs -- no news, since Polar S.A (Useful)

Crackberry -- Some Z30/Iphone?/Android? Contest, some z30 case, Deal of the day case, editoral on the STL-100, Talk Mobile filler (Useless)

Definitely would love a new Z30...

Tweet will be sent out and can't wait for BBM. Disappointed it didn't release yet but will be happy once it comes, waited a long time and a couple weeks more isn't bad if the release is flawless

Posted via Z10

They need to increase the 6mb limit in sending files or incorporate some kind of compression into the software before the file is sent! WhatsApp is currently at 16mb.

Let's not forget that a HD video taken on a iPhone that lasts 1m30secs is only 9mb and a 20 second video taken on my Z10 is 20mb...

This needs to change. I believe the Crackberry team have already brought this up in a previous topic...

Posted via CB10

Funny how the index for Jamaica, Indonesia and Dominican Republic is 100,99 and 97 percent respectively and the index for Canada is a measly 53% when it comes to BBM. Are the Canadians over Blackberry themselves? Here's the sad part: Blackberry and BBM index is so high in some countries, like the ones I mentioned before, because of BIS. This allows 3rd world countries and emerging markets to get just the services they need without having to shell out for a complete data package. They do not have the money. BB10 no longer makes use of BIS so that means that those countries wont upgrade their legacy devices to BB10. That's why blackberry keeps putting out OS 7.1 devices. They know this. Getting rid of BIS is the worst decision Blackberry made. But i guess they had to as carriers were no longer willing to pay service fees to Blackberry for the BIS service. We can thank Apple (IOS) and Google (Android) for that. Blackberry needs to come up with a way of supporting BIS (as an option) on BB10. If they loose these emerging 3rd world markets they are really D.O.N.E.

Are you from Jamaica, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, or another 3rd world country? I am from one of the three you mentioned.

For people who have the money, they refuse to switch to BB10 not because of having to fork out money for data packages, not because there's no more cheap BIS plan, but because they jumped ship before BB10 is out. They still have to pay for data packages when using Samsung or iphone. So the reason of people not wanting to pay for data packages doesn't stand. And even after BB10 is out, many people think that the price is not justified because of the stigma of OS6 and OS7 as well as lack of apps and games.

For people who don't have the money, they can't afford BB10 so they stick with legacy phones. Period. Even if BIS is on BB10, they still can't afford a BB10 device. The carriers don't sell phones with contract so we have to pay full for the phones. Z10 was $700 at launch. How in the hell people who don't have money buy a $700 phone? Even Q5 is $400.

Where I'm from, this is the case.

I don't know where you are from but I'm also from one of the countries I mentioned above. I can tell you that people do not have the money for a traditional data plan. So they choose blackberry with BIS which allows them to let's say get a "social" only plan that gives them access to Facebook, Twitter, ect for an extra US10 a month. Then they use prepaid minutes for calling. And if you think about it, a Blackberry 9900 is no cheaper than a Z10 off-contract or subsidized. So point still stands.

Our son is the only family member on iPhone, the rest of us on BlackBerry. (He's impatient for his contract to be up so he can get a Zed. ) He and we were quite disappointed when he learned that his iOS (5?) is too old for BBM. :-(

Posted via CB10

think so, too. Will be the same story as with BB OS10 for Playbook. In a few weeks from now BB will start to tell us that IM has no future to prepare for the announcement that the decision was made not to bring BBM to other platforms.

Posted via CB10

Funny how i read an article on Yahoo yesterday that pretty much bashed BBM and BlackBerry as a whole (had nothing to do with the almost launch)saying BBM Is pretty much garbage, hahahaha. Im sorry. But the numbers sure don't lie, 1.1 million BBM Requests in 8 hours, hmmmm. Yeah, love the propaganda Yahoo, BlackBerry is already in trouble and it doesn't need more lies. F**k you Yahoo and long live BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

BBM could easily have over 200 million users in next couple of months but for that to happen Blackberry has first to release a good version. Can these guys get anything right?

I should have read your comment before writing my comments... I agree 100% - they have the potential to gain so much in both the phone and messaging markets, but their execution is very poor.

" and hopefully no real harm will come from the delay --"

except to stockholders. BBM will not be profitable or 'monetized', maybe not even launched cross-platform, until the new owners have stolen it from the current owners.

The whole release was a joke. BBMx with know bugs..come on BlackBerry :-(..... They are in serious trouble I'm afraid! Long time advocate of this comany.

Blah blah blah. When is bbm going cross platform. They made me look like a fool, telling all my friends to get it. Then Monday came!

Sent from The Legendary Zed10

That's one thing BlackBerry is good at, making us look like fools for believing in their promises. "Sell like hell." Will I 'eck.

I'm glad BBM is going cross platform.

Regardless of the impact that it might have on the company, it's good for consumers.

So unless you're a shareholder (and unfortunately won't be for much longer) you should also be happy about it.

On the other hand, I will still support BlackBerry and I would really really love a Z30 to get me through this time.

It would help me be more productive in class so I could potentially one day work for BlackBerry and help turn the company around :)

Posted from the Shield Helicarrier

Just thinking out loud but why do I have a feeling BBM is being delayed due to the bid. So the price of the shares don't go above 9.

Posted via CB10

Cool to see those stats! I like stats, especially when they have unexpected results. Hopefully BBM will arrive soon and the blue line will rise even more.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

Well of course bbm would have been a huge success and a lot of people placed a bet on that. Yet the management and whoever else is conspiring with them decided it's a better idea to postpone so the $9 bid may seem to be attractive...

Posted via CB10

Check out Tencent. Matched Facebook 100bn valuation this week. The company uses a "free" messaging system to promote gaming and "value add" in game purchases etc. It's actually a better model and far more profitable then FB (2.5 bn v 1 bn most recent). It goes to show with distribution there are ways to monetize. BBM has a lot of unique advantage. Of course they have to launch it...

Posted via CB10

If the 60 million current BBM users can get even 1 unique user from Android or iOS, that's 60 million more users right there, for a total of 120 million. Not a bad start if it happens.

Literally all my friends that used to have a BB and switched over to either iphone or android has all said they are not going to get BBM because they all use Whatsapp. It's sad, I think the Z10 might just be my last berry after 7 years...

Very promising. I just hope bb can execute. I also wonder if if bb's efforts to capture the consumer market will be abandoned completely. I know things are going to change drastically. I just hope that they find a way to at least maintain the advances OS10.2 has achieved on consumer side; battery life, stability, android player, gaming, etc., and improve the camera further.

Seems like no one cares about Line in North America, but it is kind of popular on some regions in the world. If BBM's target is the world, they (or we) should really take a look on Line. It looks like it has something that BBM doesn't have yet and Blackberry may be able to borrow some ideas from them. No offense, just discuss :)

There is no doubt they have a shot it, even become number one... but only if they get their sh@$ together with the BBM multiplatform launch. Is not out yet and already issues that they had to pull it out of the apps stores. This is Blackberry's problem all the time, lack of testing and be prepared for moments like these. What's the point of conquering all the market share for multi-platform messaging if your service experience problems and delays.

Honestly, I don't care to hear anything about BBM until the thing is released.

Just get your sh*t together BlackBerry! You make your most loyal fans and advocates look like idiots on a regular basis :(

There is only so much we can take :(

Posted via CB10 on my BlackBerry Z10

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Thought this was going to be opened up for everyone to enter.

Posted via CB10