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.
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 http://phon.es/bbmwin
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 CrackBerry.com for more news on BBM (you can follow @bbm and sign up for updates at bbm.com too!). Good luck!