So the big day has finally come.  I was just about to take to Twitter to complain about the silence from the @BBM channel, despite Frank Boulben telling Reuters the launch was coming in a matter of days.  And then, as luck should have it, I saw the Inside BlackBerry blog post about today’s launch. 

I already have BBM up and running on my Galaxy S4 and I’m pleased to say it’s actually working well for me.  I’m not experiencing prior known bugs.  My only temporary issue was that in tests from my Samsung to CrackBerry Adam’s Nexus, a high percentage of sent messages were never delivered.  As soon as I rebooted, the problem disappeared.  It now works perfectly.

I was also happy to see that the app asked me to invite my Facebook friends to download it.  This go-viral feature seems to have worked quite well for me.

Also in the marketing department, after seeing the BBM Twitter account seemingly die (total silence for a long time), I was happy that BlackBerry did actually send out emails to people who pre-registered their email address.  My email came in just before 5pm.  I was worried they’d do a big fat nothing with the email list since I didn’t even get a confirmation that they received my request when I signed up for the list in the first place.

So where to from here?  BlackBerry has a huge gap to fill between its user base and that of leading competitor, WhatsApp.  60 million users vs. over 200 million.  That’s a tall order.  The best chance the company has, in my opinion, is to be absolutely relentless about marketing the app from here on out.

I think it’s obvious they are going to see several million downloads in a matter of a day or two.  They need to press release this information and keep it on the radar.  They also need to keep sending emails to those who pre-registered to remind them to download the app, and only remove them from the mailing list if they actually register a new BBID or move an existing BBID to a new device.  Or, of course, if they opt out of the email list.  But at this point it is go big or go home.  They absolutely need to keep hammering us with positive news about the take-up of BBM. 

Next, they need to start the buzz going about new feature releases.  When can we expect video and voice support for iOS and Android?  What about BBM Channels?

Speaking of BBM Channels, if they are going to monetize the app via the Channels feature, they need to build in-app advertising expertise.  This is just my opinion, but I don’t think the company has any talent whatsoever in the in-app advertising arena right now.  They have never excelled in this department, and developers have long been complaining about crappy fill rates on ads.  Bottom line - if BlackBerry Messenger is to ever be taken seriously as platform on which to advertise, the team needs to hire experienced talent pronto.

Regardless, the company’s first priority, with respect to BBM, should be to make sure the launch is smooth, and that the service works.  Then they need to race to get to 100 million users so they can brag about the extra digit in their user base.  Behind the scenes they need to bring on the new features and build up monetization capability for BBM Channels.

Now it’s your turn.  What do you think BlackBerry can do to dramatically boost their installed base as fast as possible?  What are your ideas?

BBM now available for iPhones
BBM now availble for Android Phones