BlackBerry launched BBM into the Google Play Store in October 2013 and today announced that it has one hundred million downloads for the application on the Android platform, which in BlackBerry's words, puts it into the top tier of messenger applications. There's a surprising amount of momentum behind BBM; it's recently been added to the Amazon App Store, too, meaning Kindle Fire tablet and 'phone owners can also easily get in on the fun. BlackBerry also announced that it has 3.7 million reviews on the Play Store and 2.4 million – almost two thirds – have given BBM a five star rating. The latest version introduced some new features, including a couple of premium options that allow users to use a customized PIN for $1.99 a month and use an advert-free version for $0.99 a month. The core application remains free to download and use.
For those readers unfamiliar with BBM, this is short for BlackBerry Messenger. BBM may be likened to the forerunner of today's instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and the dozens of similar instant messaging applications. One of BBM's key differences was that it was for a long time an application restricted for BlackBerry devices only: if customers wanted access to BBM, they had to buy a BlackBerry device. BBM uses a BlackBerry PIN, which was originally coded into the hardware and used to identify devices (and so users) across the platform. BBM is also encrypted and secure, using the same technology that has kept BlackBerry as the corporate device for busy executives for a long time. The BBM service and application has also been expanded in the last three years, including video conferencing, voice calling, stickers and screen sharing. And now BlackBerry are using BBM as a means of generating revenue.
The idea behind the customized PIN is simple enough. Rather than a less than catchy PIN that consists of a series of random numbers and letters, customers can pick their own six or eight digit code. This makes the PIN easier to use and of course, if it's easier, users will want to keep on using it and will keep on paying their two bucks a month. Can BlackBerry use BBM to make money? One billion stickers have been used by BBM users and most of these had to be purchased from the BBM Store, so the answer to this question is a definite "yes." Will BBM meaningfully contribute to BlackBerry's bottom line? Perhaps but it's too soon to tell.
This latest update to BBM also adds support for Android Wear devices: customers can now see on the Android Wear when a BBM message arrives including a preview. Users may also reply to or dismiss these notifications, either via the Google Now voice control or through pre-defined responses. BBM invitations can also be accepted via the smartwatch without having to retrieve a smartwatch.
Have you used BBM before with an earlier device? Do you now use BBM on you Android device? If you don't, are you thinking about giving it a try? Let us know in the comments below.