During CES 2015, BlackBerry decided to go ahead and share some hard numbers surrounding BBM and how it's performing. Taking a look back at the numbers, it's easy to see there were some 'wins' there for BlackBerry and the platform. They showed growth across the board with over 140 million new registrations to BBM from iPhone and Android devices, 70% of users being active daily, and the BBM Shop saw 175 million visitors in the last year. No one buys stickers, right? Well, 300 Million were shared so someone is buying them.
One number that stuck out to me is the number of BBM Channels that were created. According to BlackBerry, there were 1 Million (and counting) channels created. That number seems low to me (it might be good to BlackBerry, I don't know), and I can't help but think it's because BBM Channels hasn't received an update in quite some time. I honestly can't even remember when the last noticeable change in BBM Channels occurred. The only thing I can think of is when Hootsuite integration was added and that wasn't a direct change. If you never used Hootsuite before you might not even know BBM Channels integration exists.
That got me thinking about ways to improve BBM Channels, because as much work as the folks at BlackBerry are doing with BBM, it seems as though BBM Channels is lagging a bit in terms of development and expansion of the product. Maybe it's just not the right time. Maybe an update is coming. But for now, here's a small list of things I and others I asked would like to see added that I believe would help not only improve the experience when using BBM Channels but also make people want to use it more.
- Ability to add/embed videos - This was something that was noted to be arriving on BBM Channels previously but outside of the ability to capture video from your camera using the BBM Channels online portal to create GIFS, it has never appeared and I'm not sure why. If the ability to upload video or even embed video were added, it would be awesome and improve the experience a ton.
- Ability to edit posts - As good as the BlackBerry keyboards are, typos still happen, and you always notice them when it's too late. The fact you can't edit a BBM Channel post after it has been sent is painful as it means you have to trash said post and start all over again.
- Web API's - It needs to be opened up a bit more. Having BBM Channels on your devices is great but sharing content from BBM Channels needs to be easier. The ability to embed specific posts on a site like Instagram does with photos or how Twitter does with Tweets would be fantastic.
- Multiple Admins - We recently made some changes to how the CrackBerry BBM Channel was run. For a while, there, I was still running it through Kevin's BBID which was obviously not ideal. If there were a multiple admin system, this could have been avoided.
- Improved BlackBerry Blend support - Why is BBM Channels mostly 'view only' through BlackBerry Blend? I can see other people's channels as well as my own and I can interact through the comment system, but I can't post to any of my channels through Blend. In order to do that, I still need to go to the online portal or directly through my device to post to a BBM Channel. Maybe it's coming soon but I'm left wondering why it wasn't there from the start.
- A standalone shortcut - Some people hate this idea and that's fine but having a shortcut like how the Hub and Text Messages has a shortcut means it gets prominent placement on the device and as such it reminds people to actually use channels. Just make it optional to hide / remove it and not mandatory and people will be fine with it.
I love BBM Channels when I'm using it but it's one of those things I find I have to remember to use otherwise I just don't bother and part of that is because of the stuff that is missing or otherwise not yet available. We already know BlackBerry is looking to monetize BBM further through their payment system and there are plenty of rumors of a PayPal partnership (PayPal appearing in BlackBerry World only fueled this further) in the works and hopefully expansion of BBM Channels is included in that plan. It just needs a bit more love. So, those are some of the things I'd like to see added. What would make you all use BBM Channels more or otherwise make the experience better for you? Sound off in the comments below.