Three days into the rollout: Can BBM make a strong comeback?

CrackBerry's Chris Umiastowski weighs in with his opinion on what BBM needs to do now to keep the momentum up

By Chris Umiastowski on 24 Oct 2013 01:29 pm EDT

It’s been three days since the cross platform BBM launch went live. While opinions vary, you can’t argue with metrics, and 10 million downloads in 24 hours is a very good start. But that’s all it is. A start. For BBM to make a solid comeback it needs grow the installed base and turn downloads (the curious) into active users (raving fans).

So how’s it going so far?

My experience with BBM on an Android device has been excellent. The app is working as well as I expected it to, and iPhone friends are reporting the same across the board. The app works well. Very well. I love the app. I want to make this crystal clear because there is much more to the story, and I want you to understand the frame I’m setting up first, before reading further. I am a huge BBM fan, and I would love to see the app become THE leading communication app for mobile.

I’ve been very active in pushing friends to download the app, and my contact list has grown significantly in the last few days. But a big part of that is me playfully replying to emails with “Access denied. Download BBM. My PIN is xxxxx”. Most of my new contacts are former BlackBerry users. And this is where we start to understand the good news / bad news aspects of the cross platform BBM rollout.

The good news: There are tens of millions of former BlackBerry users who remember how awesome the app was for them. They understand the concept of a PIN number, and they miss the “D” and “R” notifications. They’re downloading and using BBM.

The bad news:  Most of my friends who have never owned a BlackBerry have absolutely no clue about its value. They are either happy enough with WhatsApp or text messaging, and they see BBM as a “me too” player. That’s a problem BlackBerry needs to solve. I think they need powerful and simple videos to communicate the awesomeness that is BBM. This, in my mind, is a super high priority issue. There must be a powerful message behind BBM, and I’m not seeing it be delivered as strong as it can be... yet.

The BBM Handshake and Privacy

With BBM you don’t just add people to your contact list and start chatting. That opens the door to the IM equivalent of spam, which sucks. I want to move all of my social (and much of my business) communication to BBM, but I only want to get communication from people who I’ve agreed to chat with. That’s why BBM works by having one person send out an invite, and the other person accepting the invite. I call that the BBM Handshake. If you’re familiar with email marketing you might think of it as double opt-in, where you submit your email address to a company and then confirm you intended to do so by clicking a link they send you. With BBM it’s the same thing. You first give someone your email address or PIN, and you must  then accept the invite. That handshake keeps things clean. No garbage.

With BBM you don’t just add people to your contact list and start chatting

The unique PIN used by BBM is also a privacy mechanism. Your PIN, on its own and without the handshake, is pretty much useless. If someone gets my PIN they can send me an invite, but they can’t spam me and I can easily block them. This is what made BBM so popular with the teen and young adult audience years ago. People meet new people at a bar, they exchange PINs, and they never have to share personal information like an email address or mobile phone number. Much different that WhatsApp.

So that’s how I see BBM being differentiated, aside from the obvious D and R notifications. But even if the whole world understood this I still think there is a major problem BlackBerry needs to tackle. And that is ....

The invite process must improve, and that’s happening

I’ve already had one friend, a tech-savvy and self-employed dentist (the perfect definition of prosumer), download BBM only to get pissed off. Why pissed off?  The app won’t go through his existing contact list and tell him who’s already using BBM, so that he can send invites to those people. He uninstalled the app the next day, out of frustration, and took to Facebook to rant about the poor execution.

The simple truth of the matter is that BBM can’t become the dominant IM app without viral growth

His story is not unique, and that’s because he’s 100% right to complain. In fact, in my informal poll, this is the number one complaint from iOS and Android users of BBM, at least if you ignore the temporary lineup frustration. The simple truth of the matter is that BBM can’t become the dominant IM app without viral growth.

Think about what “viral” means. In the case of a biological virus, humans don’t have to go to special effort to spread highly infections diseases. If you are sick with one and breath on someone else, or cough, or share food, or shake hands, or whatever, the virus can spread. If it required special thought and effort to spread a virus, it wouldn’t be called a highly infections disease. It wouldn’t spread.

BBM, in its current cross-platform state, is not anywhere near as viral as it needs to be (but it's doing pretty already). It’s the equivalent of a virus that requires you to chase people down and work hard to infect them. Not very threatening, is it?  Of course not.

BBM needs to help you automatically extend your hand as part of the BBM handshake. It needs to go through your contact list and tell you who’s an existing user and ask you if you want to invite them to the service. It shouldn’t automatically invite everyone, it should be your choice. But the hard part, the identification of potential contacts, needs to be automated. Then it’s up to the other person to extend their hand and complete the BBM handshake. THAT gives the app viral potential.

The good news is BlackBerry is very well aware of this issue. I’ve been digging into this over the last three days and I’m certain they get it. I’m confident the next release of the app will fix this problem, arming BBM to attack its competitors in a much more significant way.

I just wish they’d realized this ahead of the launch.

Is it too late?

Opinions vary here. It took me until about March 2012 to decide that BlackBerry would have to be “stunningly stupid” not to go cross platform, and I outlined the reasons in this post. I’m very happy to see that BlackBerry came to the same conclusion. But there are others (people I think are smarter than me) who have been pushing for cross platform BBM much longer than I have. So it should not surprise you that some smart folks think this launch is 2-3 years late. If BlackBerry had done this sooner, it may not be facing such a huge gap between BBM and WhatsApp. People’s BBM contact lists would not have shrunk to the degree that they have.

It’s very tough to reverse negative momentum, which is what BBM must do in order to succeed. It’s even more tough to reverse the momentum when you have highly skilled competitors, such as Google, releasing amazing cross platform tools like Hangouts. And yes, I use the term “cross platform” loosely because there is no Hangout support for BB10. But unfortunately, as far as numbers go today, only Android and iOS matter for something to be considered cross platform.

I’m not worried about Skype. I don’t see it becoming a super strong mobile app. I’m not worried about Facetime or iMessage. Apple seems unlikely to support Android, but who knows. So I think the real fight is between WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and good old fashioned SMS, which doesn’t stand much of a chance in the long run.

So what’s your take, CrackBerry Nation?  is BBM up to the job? 

(Oh, and as a quick side note, there are plenty of people publicly speaking out about how “late” cross platform BBM is, yet they have no track record for saying so prior to BlackBerry announcing the cross platform plans.  Ignore the posers.)

Topics: BBM Editorial

Reader comments

Three days into the rollout: Can BBM make a strong comeback?



To us current and former BlackBerry users. But to everyone else who never used it they don't see what the hype is. They just say I use iMessage, FaceTime, Whatsapp and etc as they do the same thing. Maybe after a while of using it assuming they add contacts they ll start to see what all the hype is starting with the D and R notifications.

BlackBerry is again late to the market with BBM like they were with BB 10. Even though both products are awesome they allowed their competitors to take such a huge market that they ll never catch up and that's for BB 10. BBM does have a chance as Chris pointed out millions of former BlackBerry users miss BBM and are happy to use it again and will promote it.

Again as Chris pointed out BlackBerry should have found a better way of finding out who's on BBM and suggest if you want to add that person as well as invite new ones to make BBM grow faster.

Anyways, enough said Great article Chris!!

Yes, I agree. WhatsAapp does that, which helps it go viral but at the same time compromises security because the app now knows every person in your address book which it cross-references with it's database of all existing users/phone numbers.

If BBM were to do the same thing, it would need to generate a centralized database of all phone numbers that have BBM installed, and then the BBM app on your phone would need to scan through all the numbers in your phone's phonebook and cross-reference to the central database to "tag" or mark them for a potential invite. So you would see a list in your BBM app of people in your contacts that have downloaded BBM, and be given the opportunity to invite them to link up via BBM as well.

Your BBM app would essentially be querying the central database for the phone-number-to-PIN conversion. The next update of BBM has to be made to "populate" a centralized database with everybody's phone number next to their BBM PIN number, and be able to show you PINs of anyone whose phone number has one matching it (meaning they have BBM installed) for generating an automatic invite list.

That idea won't work because our phone numbers have nothing to do with our BBID. With security being at the forefront of BB's business, I'm sure that they will release something secure. The only challenge is to do it fast enough for the viral effect to work.

I'm sure most of us insert email address of our friends in the phonebook. Hopefully, those who downloaded bbm also use the same email address, BlackBerry could easily cross reference those who downloaded bbm with emails in our phonebook.

Yes you do.
Open BBM.
Tap the lower left corner button, or pull the screen to the right.
Tap invites.
Tap suggested.

Posted via CB10

Umm...have you actually tried using that? it is showing me those already in my BBM contacts list, as well as the postal service and a couple of local businesses.

I'm gonna say it is not real helpful at this point.

Posted via CB10

I think what's happening here is it's looking for any and all contacts in your list with the "BBM" field filled in. In my case, I too thought I had tons of people to add... then I realized that swapping phones multiple times over the last few years polluted my address book with mixed-up data fields. The BBM entries in my address book were filled with birthdays in MM/DD/YY format.

So no, I don't see how the Suggested Invites feature actually does anything useful unless you have people in your address book with PINs that, for some reason, you haven't added to your BBM contacts list yet.

I have a Z10 and I can see the "Suggested" under invite menu. I also installed iPhone BBM but I did not see the "suggested".
Isn't Blackberry tried to get BBM as viral as possible. And missing this simple function (let alone letting people know) is not helping.

I'm having a hard time getting friends on BBM for those exact reasons.. "why do i need it? whatsapp gives me More AND everybody's on it"


Seeing that I got 200+ invites from droid/iphone users, I'd say yeah...comeback is in motion!

Posted via CB10

BBM us indeed virulent I am converting all whatsapp contacts to it what is important is to make BBM pathogenic causing all if them chronic dependence go BBM go !

I'm just waiting for this to happen. Sadly BBM exposure is slow here in Scandinavia. Spamming all over to spread awareness.

The fact that BBM only works on cellular devices and not on wifi-only devices is a missed chance which will seriously hamper it's potential success.

Posted on my awesome Q5

I have it installed on an iPad2 wifi only, I downloaded the iPhone version on it and it works !

I have it running on my Nexus 7 WiFi only. :) Android is very easy in this regard, load the APK and away you go. It works flawlessly.

Which begs the question of WHY BlackBerry is blocking the installation to Wifi only devices if it works just fine.

I'm sure there is a reason, I just can for the life of me figure it out.

Posted via CB10

The PB video chat works with BBM on bb10 devices, but that's about it, unless you use bridge.

Posted via CB10

My 3 daughters have PlayBooks and BBM doesn't work for them. So sad. IPad has BBM but PB doesn't.

Posted via CB10

If you have up to date versions of the Tablet OS and Bridge, you have BBM on the PlayBook with a BB10 handset. Granted, it's not BBM from the PlayBook, but at least you can pull up BBMs on the PlayBook while bridged.

They really need to fix this. My girlfriend has a legacy device without a dataplan, and can't use BBM for shite. They would also gain tons in countries were legacy devices are the only option.

The current OS on PB have Android 2.3 Gingerbread runtime inside.
Not the 4.0 ICS (which is the minimum requirement for BBM on Android) or even 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jelly Bean.

Does BBM on OS10 and cross platform not work on wifi? BBM on wifi only on my old 9800 works world wide where ever I connect through a modem or hot spot.

Check out the "Compatibility:" section here:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular and iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

It's unclear what the "+" means.

I understand why people would be confused if they haven't dealt with ipads much. That being said, it actually is not unclear. There are two types of ipads:
1) Wi-Fi
2) Wi-Fi + Cellular
That is the way they are labelled by Apple. So Blackberry has stated that BBM is compatible *only* with devices that have a cellular connection (at least some of the time), and NOT compatible with devices that have a wifi only connection. Of course we all know that they can work on Wi-Fi only devices ...

So the people reporting BBM working with the Wi-Fi only models are not using the official app and are sideloading?

Well I have heard of people on Android sideloading it, yes. People on iOS can download the app on a phone, then re-download it on another device (that is wifi only) using the same account. There are ipad specific apps on the App Store, but you can also download iphone apps onto it. So even if BB made sure the BBM app doesn't show up as a download option for wifi ipads, the app store always gives you the option to re-download any app you have purchased onto your ipad.

Hope that made sense. :)

It definitely works on wifi only. I have it on my Z10 and downloaded it on many friends iphones and androids who use it for wifi only

Posted from my Z10

You have missed the point entirely. It's NOT about USING it on wifi-only. It's that you cannot download it and install it if your device is wifi-only (not a cell phone.) Think iPods and tablets that can only connect via wifi.

All my Whatsapp group buddies came over to BBM briefly, but are all back in Whatsapp groups. Too late? Maybe.

Posted via CB10

Probably because, sadly, WhatsApp offers more in group chat. You can share a video in the group. Also unless I'm mistaken BlackBerry devices can upload video to an individual on iOS or Android but the same doesn't apply the other way.

I'm having two have both groups running to counter this. I see WhatsApp winning for others as bbm with D and R is not compelling enough.

Posted via CB10

Honestly, the group prefers the in-line image posting that Whatsapp offers. BBM keeps the images separate, which is also nice as you can have separate conversations on pics, but you have to leave the chat thread to see the pics. There is appeal (read: lazy) to having everything in one thread, simplicity and convenience, oddly enough.

Actually it's been most of this year they've been working on cross platform, plus add an extra month since it was supposed to launch Sept 21st.

They've had plenty of time.

Yeah, early days for sure, and we'll see how it plays out over the next while. Habits are hard to break... ;)

Is anyone else having an issue either on iOS or Android where after you click "I got the email" the load indicator spins for a second then nothing happens?

Posted via CB10

Yup. Instructed all to exit that screen and sign in with the user name and password they selected. It has worked each time.

Trying to recall if it was through the original screen that requested your username - to bypass the wait list. Where does that take you when you input your email address now?

It takes me to the "We're holding your spot in line." screen with two options, "I got the email" or "Back". This seems to suggest that I haven't reached the start of the line yet, even though I got the email stating I have.

Just checked and it's the link from the confirmation email that you should click again. The link that took you to the. "Setting up BBM " screen. The setup should be complete now. Keep in mind that link expires in 72hours.

It certainly can make a comeback but i am also of the opinion that the invite process needs to improve and improve asap!

Just search #bbm, #waiting and #pin on twitter and instagram for proof.

Hopefully they add voice, video and channels soon and that will almost certainly make the subscriber base increase exponentially

Agree 100% with you, I was teaching 3 friends how to on BBM, 2 on Android and one on iPhone, and to impress them I did a video call with BBM video chat feature and where pretty impressed, asking me how they could do it, than I explained it' be available soon for them. That's when my iPhone friend started digging into my Z10, I was then showing of my Z10 features, and his reaction was "that phone is sick" he had no clue that of what BBOS10 was about. He then started typing loving the keyboard and I think I just converted an isheep into a Crackberry. I've had lots of invites from both platforms and one of the complains, or the only one is, that they just don't have anyone on their BBM, I have a suggestions tab on my BBM but android and iPhone don't so I told them it would be available anytime soon also. I hope it does. I'm with you in this one Chris.

Posted via CB10

I guess this would vary by region. In philippines adoptation is base on the viral and provider endorsement (kakaotalk, viber etc). Only a few of my android/ios friends installed bbm for now.

Z10 STL100-2

Very good buzz in my social circles too. A coworker even asked today how to access BBM Voice and Video on the cross platform version lol

Do they stand a chance?...absolutely. The 10 million downloads in 24 hours would be good foder for that argument. Agree, they need to be able to auto tap into a contact list and be able to send out invites.

In the mean time, good old word of mouth will have to do

Depends. If the 99% of users are old BB users "checking in" its not that important. I assume lots of BB users also has an iPhone/Android (to have some working apps) and they are of course also testing BBM.

BB needs to add unique features: Voice/video (coming), screen sharing (?), Payments/money transfers (BB Money). Also add BBM for Desktop (Windows, OSX, Linux) + WP. This would make it near 100% cross platform.

They are waaay behind WhatsApp with a factor of 4-5 on the userbase.

I would not be surprised if the number of users flattens out - just like the "amazing BB10 sales numbers did".

Sorry for being so pesimistic :-(

I'll take any good publicity with BlackBerry at this time. I think they can succeed, but they have to keep growing and the functions and capabilities of BBM. Of course, my opinion isn't new.

Posted via CB10

I agree with you 100%. Cross-platform BBM is a critical mission that BlackBerry can't afford to fail and it may be their last chance of being relevant in the technology world.

Posted via CB10

The iPhone and Android users have access to the suggestions bar in invites like we have in bb10? I mean, can they see which contacts of their lists have a bb id?

Posted via my awesome BlackBerry Z10

how would BBM know whether their Android or Apple contacts already have BBM ? Use their name and / or phone numbers to look up in the Blackberry host side which is indexed by PIN? I don't see an elegant solution here.

If Blackberry tries to match on name and phone number, they risk making a mistake of matching you up to the wrong person and also possibly giving away people's PIN without their permission. They are limited to using emails to communicate PINs and then using BBM to establish the BBM connection.

they look at the emails, if you have yours contacts with full information include emails, they check a those emails and the ones with a BBID associate gonna show up on your suggestion screen,

In the US the big hurdle is they have unlimited texting and don't need it to work over wifi. They don't travel so international is moot. The few that I have gotten to add love the groups and instantaneous result of "d" "r".

Posted via CB10

Although I also have unlimited text, the main reason I use what'sapp or Bbm is for sending pictures which I would have to pay for with text.

Posted via CB10

I agree. In most part of Europe we have free texting (SMS) as well as MMS.
I prefer to use a chat program like BBM, as the message delivery is faster and you can see if the message is received on the recipients device.

We'll see how cross-platform BBM performs for a little while but I also share with your realistic point of view that it may be too late. But we can't deny the fact that there's still a strong demand for BBM even today. At least we can cautiously hope that BBM can have a chance of competing with the big boys in the long term.

Posted via CB10

I know the numbers speak for themselves but I think it needs time to grow. I love BBM and always have and I have been bullying friends of mine to download. I think it's in blackberry's hands to keep updates regular and continue to update the app so we can use it to video chat and call. Really hope it goes well

Posted via CB10

Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm enjoying being able to use BBM again. It works well on my iPhone. To BlackBerry's credit, they have already released an update.

Videos would be great. I have friends who want to add contacts by PIN but can't navigate the interface very well yet.

Good news though - Android and Apple friends are posting their BBID PINs on Facebook

Posted via CB10

Just out of curiosity...Are your Android and iOS friends brand new to BBM or are they former BBM users?

Posted via CB10

Very relevant question - just listening in on the replies...

I can add: My daughter is now on BBM and finds it "OK" compared to WhatsApp. A friend of mine is in the waiting line - he used BB years back as a corporate device but is since years now using Apple products.

They had to release that update cus is messed up but they didn't take the flack black berry has

Posted via CB10

So far a lot of my friends converted back to bbm. But also a lot r complaining that it crashes and lots of features from whatsapp missing. So I'm guessing they have a 2 week opportunity to sort out all the glitches or ppl will go back to whatsapp. Hope bbm here to stay

Posted via CB10

Agree here about some of the WhatsApp features, the only one i'd copy from what app is the ability to choose the background and the effect of floating text. Nothing else

Posted via CB10

It just started it's "comeback" and it's doing well. Sure, everything can improve. BBM is awesome.

Posted via CB10


As always I enjoy your articles, they are well thought out and insightful. Thanks!
Further, I agree, if you not familiar with BBM, user are going to down load it and say "ok what is next, do I just wait?".

Lastly, I think the killer would be to bring to the PC/Laptop world. That great expand the useability. I have read "inklings" about this in the past, and someone suggested that BB has this working internally. Any thoughts on that issue?

Completely agree with your PC/Laptop comment. It's one of the things I love about iMessage - being able to resume the conversation on my Mac. If BBM had that convenience I'd likely use it more.

Further to that, we need to be able to be signed in on multiple devices, on the same account, at the same time. I want to see BBM succeed, in fact I was banned from crackberry a couple years back for suggesting they needed to cross platform BBM, if RIM wanted to survive. At this point, I use FB messenger, and here's why. It syncs across my phone, tablet, and laptop while signed in on all three. I can send and receive messages from FB, Skype, MSN Messenger, and they all sync live. On my phone I use the chat heads. This allows access to my convos from within any app on my phone. The only time the chat head doesn't show is during full screen video, or when I swipe it away. It has sms integration, and in app voip calls. It shows sending, sent, and seen same as d and r. It's limits are video and video calls. I have to open Skype and Dropbox for that.
I understand the security and privacy argument. In defense of those who don't seem to care, most people aren't looking to message with strangers. That situation is probably limited to a specific age group, and probably a limited group of that age group. Anyone I message with would already know my email for sure, and most likely my phone number. My FB friends list is family, and a few select friends and community contacts. If I wouldn't stop and chat with you face to face on the street, you're not going to be on my FB list. Just my point of view.

Convinced my wife to install it on her iPhone. I thought she'd humor for an hour or so, but to her credit she keeps contacting me with it. All of her communication needs are handled by iMessage and Whatsapp, that I figured she wouldn't see the need to carry a third app just for me. Glad she is sticking with it, but she and a co-worker are my only contacts.

interesting, I have the opposite situation, my wife was and android user when we meet, I'm a died-hard BB user, we try SMS and a couple things, but she was looking ways to have the best and smooth communication with me, so after we debate her switch to BB I finally get her a BB10 phone, now she said it fell better have the same tools and now she understand why I enjoy communicate with my family over sea through BB

I'm running the BBM channels beta, and it seems that my messages are taking quite a long time to be delivered to the recipient. On my Bold 9650 it seemed to happen in a second or less. Now, and this is my first real use of BBM on BB10, it seems to take many seconds, and sometimes even longer. Is that because I'm messaging people on iOS or Android? Is that because I'm on beta BBM? Both?

Is anyone else experiencing slow message delivery?

Just by the people I know who use android and iPhone devices that have taken the initiative on their own to get it. Absolutely yes.

Trolls should be forced to use BB10!

I strongly disagree...

BBM has a base set of users regardless - degrees of separation alone will do the rest of the work. Their focus should solemnly be on making a good product.

If their product becomes a better experience than Whatsapp, then, they will probably win over the majority of smartphone users - through reason and reluctance.

They also have an opportunity unlike most others to facilitate professional uses for BBM such as transactions, promotional channels, premium features, unlike most social networks in play today. There is real legs under this product, the last thing they need is it to be a fad.

I have to disagree about going through your contacts on your behalf, automatically. That's part of the privacy equation that makes BBM so popular and appreciated. I don't need the Kik-like experience of contact-mining and mass-spamming to all my contacts.
If the app did that but still gives the user a choice to send to a person or not, what's the difference by doing it manually? I don't care if I invite someone who's not on BBM. If I do and they're not on BBM, maybe they'll go out and download it.

I'm also going to disagree with Chris. I don't want BBM going through my contacts and showing me who else has the app. Would this feature help with the growth of BBM as is mentioned in the article? Absolutely. But I also think that it's wrong to focus solely on numbers. There needs to be a differentiation from WhatsApp. For me, that comes down to the privacy that BBM affords. I have many contacts through work on my phone. I don't like using WhatsApp because those contacts who also have WhatsApp automatically get a window into my personal world by having access to my profile pictures, updates, and when I was last using the app. Now I understand that the argument that is being used is only for BBM to indicate who else has the app and who you can "extend your hand to" however that creates a situation where if someone from work invites me to BBM I have to decline the invitation if I don't want them on my BBM. It's an awkward social convention to have to deal with and one that's best left alone. The people I want on my BBM list received the invitation to join via a link to and my pin via a text message, a whatsapp message or a facebook message. Every single person I contacted has downloaded BBM and we now BBM exclusively. I think BBM needs to keep this allure of privacy and exclusivity... if you're on my BBM list it's because I want you there, not because I felt awkward about declining your invitation. If BlackBerry changes this just to chase a user base, I think they risk loosing the one thing they have that WhatsApp never will....

You wrote a really great, balanced and realistic article, Chris. It's one of the few times that I agree with you 100%. By the way, do you or does anyone know if the Google play store deduct uninstalls from the downloads total/range? I'm curious to see the numbers in a month or so, once the novelty of the release wears off, that should give us a better view of its potential.

From the article:

"I’ve already had one friend, a tech-savvy and self-employed dentist (the perfect definition of prosumer), download BBM only to get pissed off. Why pissed off? The app won’t go through his existing contact list and tell him who’s already using BBM, so that he can send invites to those people. He uninstalled the app the next day, out of frustration, and took to Facebook to rant about the poor execution.

The simple truth of the matter is that BBM can’t become the dominant IM app without viral growth. His story is not unique, and that’s because he’s 100% right to complain."

"BBM needs to help you automatically extend your hand as part of the BBM handshake. It needs to go through your contact list and tell you who’s an existing user and ask you if you want to invite them to the service"

Not too sure what part I missed? Seems to me you VERY specifically stated that BBM should go through your contacts and tell you who in your contacts has BBM so that they can try to add you. This is not a good feature for a messaging service that was founded on the basis of privacy and exclusivity and I stated the reasons why in my comment. Perhaps you're the one who needs to learn how to read your own articles??

Chris, with all due respect, even without spamming contacts you did suggest this:

"BBM needs to help you automatically extend your hand as part of the BBM handshake. It needs to go through your contact list and tell you who’s an existing user and ask you if you want to invite them to the service."

No, BBM should NOT do that. Just telling me that someone on my contact list has a BBM account IS a privacy violation, even if I am not told their PIN or email address that they use for their BlackBerry ID.

I certainly don't want everyone in the world who has my contact information to start asking me to connect with them on BBM.

What I think would be interesting is a feature that scans your inbox and outbox and looks for people whom you email between 9-5 PM and another list of those you email outside those hours, and suggest "here are some possible professional contacts you might ask to join BBM" and also "here are possible personal contacts that you might ask to join BBM" and allow you to edit that list then offer to send a BCC: bulk email to them all... but to just say "these people are on BBM"? That's crossing a line.

What I know is this - From a business and family perspective, anyone I needed to message with already had BBM.

However, from a consumer perspective, BBMx platform seems to be a massive hit here in my part of Mexico. My kids have had Blackberry's from the outset, and we never wavered. However, many of their friends moved on from BB or never had one. BBM has gone viral in this group, and seems to be the main topic of conversation of late. My kids are the type (sigh...) to have 500+ facebook friends, and it seems their BBM count is increasing by literally multi-dozens per day over the past few days, and growth is only limited by the time available to add new 'friends' .

Unless BBRY poops the bed with a service outage, I think the other options will have been left in the dust very shortly....

There could very well be a direct correlation between your lack of friends/contacts and your consistent negative posting on Crackberry.

Just sayin'.....

quoting Chris' article "The app won’t go through his existing contact list and tell him who’s already using BBM, so that he can send invites to those people"

This is probably possible as the PlayBook video Chat would do this for any contacts that had a Playbook and the email you had for them was the same as their BBID email.

If I go into my contacts app on the Q10, go into settings and deselect everything but video chat, I see any contact with a Blackberry that can video chat, even if I don't have them as a BBM contact. From there I can select the contact and chose invite to BBM.

My friends have never had a BlackBerry before and don't see the value of BBM. For me, I do see the value even though I never really used it. Why? Because I told them to download it and started using it; that's when I knew how great it was. After I downloaded it.

There has to be a way to get people to like it before they download it. Can we see sopme marketing?

Posted via the super amazing BlackBerry Q10

That story about the dentist is funny, why?. Cause he's a big baby, he didn't even give BBM a fair chance. And to go bashing it on Facebook because in this case "the user" doesn't know how to use the product. Wow, if your new to something you give it more than a day to try and get used to. Big baby.

Posted via CB10

Multiple devices support is very important. I don't want to use a different PIN on each devices. I know desktop app is coming soon (BlackBerry Coming Soon). Also voice calls and video over mobile network would be awesome.

Yes, however, if you switch phones, you will be asked to transfer bbm, all conversations on the other phone will then be erased and not even transfered. It will be good if the conversations remain intact.

Posted via CB10

When I go to invites and then the last tab suggested I see a list of name from my contact. How is this list determined? It's not my whole contact list.

Posted via CB10

It may be suggestion contacts with BBID that match the email you have for them. Try creating a new contact with your BBID email and see if it shows up in this tab.

I was just about to say the same thing. I don't know if this is different with iOS and Android. If it is, it needs to be fixed fast because on my Z10, it doesn't only look at my private contact list, but if you include facebook to your contact list, or linkedin, it provides suggestions there.

I had the exact same question, didn't even know it was there until all this BBM activity. I believe these people still have a bbid associated with their contact info? possibly?

I just tried the suggestion box and did an "invite" of a contact that I only had an email address and it worked. The contacted got the invite and accepted. I did not know that this contact had BBM.

I think it can supplant WhatsApp since it is significantly better in every technical aspect other than Windows Phone support, so the real competition in my opinion is Google Hangouts. It's currently on every platform - not necessarily with video, but at least text is - including desktop, and most people already have Google accounts. Skype may keep the highest installed base just because Microsoft pushes it, but I know few who still actually use it now, let alone will be likely to still be using in another year or two when BBM goes to desktop/Windows 8.

Hangouts it's just on iOS and Android, so I don't understand your statement of "it's currently on every platform"

Chris, I don't know if this is only in the BBM with Channel Support, but if you go to the Invites section, there is a "Suggested" section, which does, in fact, go through your contact list and tell you who is on BBM.

I think he was referring to the Android and iOS versions where this feature is not there. I use it all the time on my Z10, but it definitely needs to be there on the others to keep spreading.

Bingo.  The feature doesn't exist in iOS or Android yet, but needs to be there.  More important though, is to have the app do the hard work of finding you suggestions of people to invite from your contact list upon first load.

They have to preach to the 'non-converted'. It's likely the early adopters of BBM in the last few days are mostly legacy users. They need to reach passed them to users who have never even heard of BBM before.


People want it to go through their phone book and find people but if you don't have the right info related to the person then what is there to pull and tell you this person has BBM? If it uses phone numbers then it will be just like whatsapp... I see in my suggested contacts section a lot of my FB friends are popping up because they use the same email as their facebook email i guess. But i don't believe other OS put facebook contacts into your address book, maybe they should get a better phone :p

'Viral' social media and the like childish nonsense shouldn't be on the BlackBerry platform. I hope BBM succeeds so that it can be sold off as a separate platform and make money for BlackBerry so that they can continue to focus on professional- and enterprise-level phones and services, but that's all. I absolutely detest FaceTwitter and WhatsaGram and all the other junk

I refer to FB, Google +, and Twitter as anti-social media. I hated FB at first, and found it completely annoying. But at some point, I figured out the technology of it is actually pretty good, and I could control my account to use it as a great communication tool. First thing I did was delete everyone I didn't know in real life. Next, if you were family, you stayed on the friend list. Then I widdled the friends list down to people I actually wanted to keep in touch with. If you make political statuses, or post about what you're eating, pretty much going to delete you. Or block your posts if I still want to be able to message you.
I turned the most annoying app in the world into something useful. It's a communication tool, not a social tool.

Now we are back to agreeing again, Chris. People not acquainted with bbm need to see bits value. BlackBerry must step up quickly with an active means to search a users contact list for other bbmers.

Now to BlackBerry's it's time to market the daylights out of bbm. Give people a reason to switch.

It is an exciting time filled with challenges and many opportunities. How will BlackBerry respond? Time will tell if we will extolling the virtues or tolling the bell.

Posted via CB10 via my Z10

i'm trying to get my whatsapp friends to switch. so far their complaints are; can't change the group picture, settings suck can't customize, pics don't appear in the group chat, it's cumbersome to go look at the pictures, the keyboard pops up even though they just want to read a message.

some don't want to bother installing bbm because they don't want to deal with multiple messaging apps. they're sticking with whatsapp and hope bbm dies. so right now i have a whatsapp group of 35 and only 10 of them have come over the bbm group (half of the 10 are BB users). trying to make weekend plans in two different apps with the same people is driving us all bonkers right now.

dump the "35" one, and keep the "10" and get new friends,
that's what I did, I sent a massive message to all my friends,
who want to be on contact with me knows have to install BBM,
the people it's lazy, if we to push then,

Just saying here in nj even iPhone users are like why is BBM getting such hype it's not like it's good but they are still downloading it haha. Just hope it lives up to there expectations.

Posted via CB10

I will have to disagree with you about the invite process.

This is how you invite friends:

While in the bbm app click on "invites" then on the top right click on "suggested". BBM will comb through your contacts for friends who has bbm pins that you can add and it will also suggest contacts to invite to bbm. Just give it about 30 seconds to populate depending on how many contacts you have.

Please update your post and highlight this feature.

Another option is to Go to on your device click on "connect with Facebook". You will see who among your friends have bbm and you can also invite non bbm friends to join as well.

You will be surprised how many friends in Facebook have bbm. Simply copy and paste their bbm pin into bbm.


Posted via CB10

The "Suggested" option under Invite menu only for BB10 devices only. It is not showing"Suggested" for my BBM iPhone tough. Is it a bug?
It could have been a very useful feature to invite friends.

NO NO NO.. they do not need "short" videos. People LOVE social networks. (Instagram, Facebook). For the people who never owned a blackberry before, they will want to be apart of the hype once channels is released. (If channel is hype enough) then they have a reason to switch. Because for them, there is no ultimate advantage for switching right now.


The release is gud... reviews r mixed but majority of them r its a gud start.. n hopefully it will do well.. thw updates r very important.. people r waiting for bbm voice n video call.. so BlackBerry has to push these updates as soon n as possible..

Posted via CB10

I sent a massive message, and log off everything besides BBM, after a couple hours I start getting BBM invitations :D

I think their biggest opportunity is with people who only use SMS messages. They need to really show how this is an alternative because of cost savings. I encourage people to use bbm (or whatsapp for that matter) to save money by using data instead of texts. Perhaps this is why Chris says that SMS doesn't stand a change in the long run. Because the carriers maintain a seperate network for SMS, it results in increased costs for the consumer (or the business, if they pay the bill), so a natural industry shift is going to happen. It's just a matter of time. Once that shift starts, it is only going to get more expensive for those people & organizations that incest on using SMS, as there will be fewer phones supporting the SMS network.

Obviously, there are plenty of other big players already in the market. But, I would bet that most people aren't even thinking about this (costs of sms, the idea of avoiding sms altogether). So, I think there is still opportunity out there. BlackBerry still has an opportunity to be the one to tell those people about this.

If the mobile messaging market was stable or untapped, then I would be more pessimistic. But, because it is about to shift, I think BBM has a real opportunity.

Next question is.... how do they monetize it?

I see the exact opposite. In the US, most everyone with a cell phone plan has unlimited texts, or is available for very cheap ($5/mo for unlimited texting.) What IS capped and IS expensive is DATA. So, no, I do NOT want to send messages and eat up my limited data when I can do the exact same thing for "free" using my unlimited text plan.

I understand that is likely not the case in other countries, but in the US, it's extremely common to have unlimited texting unless you have a pre-paid plan.

I hear what your saying, but nothing is ever free. You pay for it in one way or another. Having said that, if they the savings aren't realized, it's a mute point.

I looked at the at&t website
There were some plans where it was bundled in with the voice, but others seperated it out and charged $20 or $30 for it. We have about 65 smartphones on our account and we don't have unlimited texts. if we could get everyone to drop text messaging altogether, we'd save (being conservative) hundreds of dollars a month.

If the carriers are indeed running text messages but not seeing any revenue from it, then they are doing it for free. They aren't going to keep doing that. They are going to find a way to retire that extra network. Thus, there will still be an opportunity. Thus, BlackBerry should get ahead of that trend.

It's crazy how much we (people in general) pay for these smart phones. Between the contracts, the overages, the accessories, the phones themselves, the complex plans. anyway, just a thought.

Data is expensive, but when you can aggregate that cost against multiple services, it makes more sense. SMS Text messages only support a single service so it makes less sense.

I've tried to find compression ratios on BBM versus other messaging platforms, but I haven't found them. That's another way BlackBerry can save money.

Full agreement on improvement needed on the invitation process. The main area for complains from my converted iOS friends. The thoughest job for me to convince them to stay.
Of course they love the D and the R and the speed (compared to Whatsapp).

But they all got totally stunned by BBM groups and the related features (pictures, lists, appointments etc.). I almost got annoyed by the constantly chatting and updating friends that I had to interact with all day long. They just love it and are already developing ideas for how to make best use of these features.

I think this needs to get marketed agressively. Not (yet?) happening.....

Perfectly said Chris...!

I never heard about BBM before having bought my Z10, my first BB device... and adding my girlfriend, who also bought her first BlackBerry device (a 9900 because she needs an indestructible brick ! :-), was a real pain if you never heard of a PIN before and were used to whatsapp that connects everyone without an effort (or even asking if you want to, what I also disliked so far!!!)

But as you perfectly said, it has to show me who in my contact list uses BBM or the viral momentum will not kick in... and without viral effect reaching the masses there won't be any interest for companies/brands to use BBM Channels the way it's meant to be used: Advertising and Customer relations!

Sadly, advertising is more or less the only way for BlackBerry to monetize BBM... if they don't get the viral issue straight then the whole exercise is worthless, back to square one...

But I'm confident!!!

Posted via CB10

It should ask for permission to scan user's contact list. If the permission is granted, then scan and present a list of current contacts that are using BBM. User can then send out invites as he wishes.

Post via CB Z10

That's the way it should work, but I don't even think that suggested friends works that way in bbm for bb10.

I have plenty of people who have BlackBerry IDs who never showed up in my suggestions.

I agree with Chris, more viral tools needed.

Posted via CB10

if the people don't show up on your suggestions that's clear you don't have their BBID's emails save on your contact list, that's clear like water,

The way you described BBM it sounds like the zombie of messaging services. And like a zombie once bitten you become one too. Maybe that should be the advertising for this. Zombies are huge now ya know.

Posted via CB10

BBM Is great and a cross platform is great also. But the side effects is BlackBerry current user like BB OS will pick other devices and hey..... they still can get BBM. so what the point to remain as BlackBerry user? This is the point I wan to all of us think about. Don't say BlackBerry superior, security and good. Look at other some of them don't care security measures. What will happen to BlackBerry device? Lot of it still in storage not in the hands of people. The important question is what will BlackBerry users will get?

Posted via CB10

First thing is that not many people know about how BBOS10 works and it's potential, once they try BBM10 they will have a glimpse of what BBOS10 Is about, people will show more interest in BB10 devices

Second: why stick around with BlackBerry? Well I was a BlackBerry user, then I was carrying and iPhone and a bb9900 now guess what? No more carrying 2 phones, now with my Z10 only which I find much more superior than iPhone, so stick around or just BB10 it wil be a matter of choice, I choose BlackBerry because for me is just a much more productive phone, it's elegant and beautiful and sexy. I love this phone and BBOS10 is the way to go.

Posted via CB10

BB it's not just BBM, it's more 'n that, do you ever try a BB10 phone on your hands for more them 10 minutes? you gonna be surprise.........

Good post but I have 1 problem with it.

You said the dentist guy said he can't find out which one of his contacts have BBM.
Everyone seems to be saying that but that is the biggest false statement.

Within the app go to the invites tab then go to suggested.

It's the easiest thing ever my 11 year old cousin even found it. People are just plain lazy these days. It's the easiest damn thing to find. How can you even miss it especially with inviting and accepting/declining invites.
That goes to show owning your own dentist business. Sure he has school smart but obviously not a lot of common sense/street smarts.

Posted via CB10

Before running your mouth, how about you understand that feature is not present yet in the ios and android apps.

I have to said I like your post, but you have to understand that feature it's still not available (yet) to iOS and android users,

Great write up!

Hey mobile nations wheres my imore, android central, and windows phone central app??? doimg a podcast together isnt good enough...

1st off, I'm ignoring the posers as Chris mentioned. 2nd, yes I believe BBM can pull this off. I've talked to people who have downloaded BBM that never had a BlackBerry before and they are hook, line and sinker into BBM.

Now we just need BlackBerry to continue this momentum - start with the first big milestone, 100 million users and advertise it to the world.

Your dentist friend complaining publicly about a drawback is very good news in that it gives BB some much needed CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. As good as BB are at producing some leading software, they are only so many of them in the BB camp, and the launch of BBM will inevitably attract criticism which BB can use to address 'shortfalls' in BBM & make it that much better. Totally agree about making it easier to add contacts. It's not exactly rocket science currently but it most definitely can be easier!
I like your term 'BBM handshake' too! BB should use it!! After all these years, it really does offer people an incredible safe communication tool. I mean, what's not to love about this messenger app!!
It is still early days but this is a part of BB, I think not even BB execs can F*CK up! If they were smart they would promote the SH*T out of it but.... they are not, not the execs anyhow, they're busy looking for an exit (which I hope they find). Fortunately people realize a good thing when they see it & former BB users will be easy to bring into the mix but as Chris mentioned, for it to go over the top, they need post BBM (younger) users to get on board. Not an impossible task considering how awesome BBM is. Ultimately, if the younger demographic run BBM along side whatsapp, it can only be a matter of time before they ditch the latter.

Great points especially the viral qualities of making it easy to add people into your BBM. What worries me is that once Google adds reply all to the text messaging app in android most of these communication apps will become irrelevant. That is the real reason people are using this messaging apps. It's unbelivable that you are not able to do reply all to a text message sent to a group of people in android. Other than countries where text messaging is expensive it will become irrelevant. Agree?

Posted via CB10

The features that make it great and better than whatsapp needs to make it quickly to cross-platform i.e. Channels, Voice Chat, Video Chat. It needs to be updated to bring it quickly on par with what is offered on Blackberry 10, there are many who are seeing it as "just another chat application". Unfortunately as the world makes technological advances people become less and less interested in security for some strange reason. Blackberry needs to take features to the masses and fully agree they need a simple way to and people easier. The wait list frustration needs to be addressed quickly as well, the wait time is too erratic for too many.

I don't know about the iOS and Android versions, but on my BB10 device in BBM under the invites section, there exists a tab named "suggested". I'm guessing the people I see under this tab are those who have BB ID's. Not exactly sure of the logic used to generate this list but I can see that it's not static.

Viral is one thing, Security is another.

In WhatsApp any one can put a random number into their contacts and will see information about the other person without them knowing about it.

You are now in my Bingo Book

I don't think x-platform BBM is too late. Or at least no more than 6 months late.

Now that BB7 sales are diminishing rapidly it really makes no difference whether BlackBerry launches cross platform sales or not.

But had they done so earlier, there'd have been no need for the 10's of millions of Indonesians who are addicted to BBM to buy BB devices, and in consequence the wheels would have come off the BlackBerry revenue bus a long time ago.

And whatever else BBM is, so far it has no monetization options. The revenue and cash BlackBerry needs came from device sales in the main.

BBM Channels should be released shortly, which ultimately will give BBM a means of generating revenue.

Both BB10 and BBM Channels had to be in place for BBM to be released cross platform and now is the right time even if slightly later than was ideal.

Launch in March or April and maybe some of that negative sentiment would have been deferred, but either way it couldn't have been done earlier with severely damaging revenue potential.

I think Chris is right about the advertising, I also don't think it would need to be sustained at a high level, go hard after each major release and show people how its better.

I'm not keen on the definition of 'viral ', by what was stated in terms of finding others who already have BBM is like finding others who are already sick, it won't spread much further, but with advertising and the ability to invite anyone you have in your contacts list, incude simple instructions on where to find the app, and once downloaded send back an invite to the initiator, then you have what you need.

Oh and advertise, yell it from the roof tops!

Posted via CB10

Steady on people....BlackBerry still has a lot of work to do.

BBM is just the start.

BlackBerry has to create a next generation smartphone that has the same effect that the original BlackBerry had on the public.

The competition is fierce so rather waste money on four devices cut it to two but with better specs closer to the Z30 take the battery life to 3000 amp for both devices.

A joint venture with a Lens manufacturer like Nokia and Carl Zeiss e.g Panasonic, Leica

Better execution of devices and development. Up until now BlackBerry has been close to incompetent in their execution .

A change of leadership is in order for BlackBerry to survive.

Posted via CB10

I was at a local pub last night with my brother. A lot of University kids go here. We saw tons of people exchanging pins. In fact, it was hard to believe. They said the app was excellent. So something is going on. No BlackBerry hate going on although none of them had BB's.

Posted via CB10

Bbm only issue is broadcasting. If we had the ability to control when we want it then it would be the greatest on earth. A Lot of people left just cause off the broadcasting

#FeneoNation #ichooseblackberry10 #blackberryZ10

Chris, I think the talented Crackberry community (staff and fans) could produce those kinds of videos in short order...really showcasing BBM.
People with unlimited text messages have been hardest for me to convince, but I have friends coming back! Yay! I hope to flush out my BBM list again. :-)

Just a thought on the "contact list" issue.

Why restrict invites to just those with a BBM PIN?

If you're going to invite people to join, why not just ransack the entire contact list and email the lot. Subject to the users approval obviously. If they already have a BBID then you simply send a link to download the app, if not you take them to BBID registration first.

Assuming they want the app to grow virally of course.

I was looking at the Banjo app today on Android...surfing different locales in the world and lo and behold just like instagram I was seeing BBM pins and barcodes displayed. I think the more widespread this happens amongst various social media apps the more awareness there will be to the BBM product. As well in order to accept the PIN or bar code, friends of friends will need to download the app. It's a good thing but as Chris mentions... there needs to be a definitive push in terms of education and marketing coming from BB themselves so that people understand the advantageous nuances around the BBM product. Off to a good start but need the momentum to keep building.

I know lots of people who don't have a data plan. When I suggest BBM, they say that that it will require data and currently with their cell plan it will only be useful in Wi-Fi zones. I can't argue with that if they are keeping costs down. Maybe BBM could develop a version specifically that uses SMS in the background. If could highlight the users in a different colour so that you knew your communications would not be end-to-end secure.

Posted via CB10

I've sold BES for over 10 years, sold thousands of BlackBerry since 1999 and for 4 years have been saying BBM should not only be promoted more by RIM, but go cross platform.

With those credentials I say this: the messaging game has just begun. There are only 280 million What's App and BBM users worldwide. In a world of 8 billion people that is peanuts.

And when you consider those metrics What's App and BBM are even is base. The key is to get to 1 billion install base, then you can drove value and revenue from such a base.

Imagine the optimal communication portal into the world's mobile phone users? That is a powerful tool. BBM could be the a bigger company than BlackBerry is today.

The ability to handle and be the channel by which things get done regardless of device will prove to be a valuable win for someone.

What's App doesn't seem to be interested in being a global force with What's App.

Whoever gets control of BBM has a chance to really dominate the communications of the masses. - Mobile: Monitor. Manage.

It matters not if former users who are now on platforms other than blackberry complain about bbm .

If they stayed with BlackBerry they wouldn't have problems in setup.

They abandoned blackberry. Now blackberry company is not successful because those people who left did not appreciate what they had.

If users like bbm then they should buy blackberry phones. This would prove the worth of blackberry

Posted via CB10

Great article Chris as always. BBM has all the potential to be the one and only choice for IM messaging but it's up to them to implement all the features needed to do so. They need to capitalize on all the hype and ride the wave.

CB10 - Z10 -

Looking at my facebook and twitter (also apparently instagram), yes its making a very strong presents, come back worthy? Dunno

It needs voice and video. That functionality will give iOS and Andriod users no reason but to choose this platform for their main source of communication.

Posted via CB10

Needs to give everyone access now.
Friends are getting annoyed and saying wtv I'm using whatsapp and viber thanks to what BlackBerry think is a great publicity stunt, is endind up as an annoyance. Roll all the full fledged features now. Nobody has a reason to convert now the way BBM is. I want it to be the app, but it's as BlackBerry always is, shooting itself in the food.

What,afraid they'll run out of innovations, so they've to release the app bit by bit?

From my smokin' Barbeque10

Currently telling a lot of my friends to download to keep in touch :) screw the facebook, twitter, etc. messaging :)

Posted via Q10

BBM forever and ill continue getting everyone i know to message me on BBM whether it is from a BlackBerry or another phone!

Posted via CB10 (My amazing Q10)

For me the best messenger but my friends hate being in waiting list. So I have only one bbm contact and I guess it will be like this . *Sad*
I told them to download, they did and they can not use. Fade up with this stupid waiting system

Z10STL100-2/ Germany

don't worry, they gonna come when they get the emails,
just log off everything besides BBM and tell them BBM it's
gonna be the only way to contact you, and you see, one by one
they gonna come,