The once formidable player in the mobile phone market, Blackberry has seen its market share go down the hill for the past few years. So much so that the company is actually looking to sell out.
In such a scenario, the companies decision to take BBM cross-platform on Android and iOS platform seemed like an ill-placed strategy to sustain and grow its market share.
The first thought that came to my mind was that if Blackberry thinks taking BBM cross-platform will save its fortunes, the closest analogy I could think of is, “taking a knife to a swordfight and expecting to win”
However, the decision to take BBM cross-platform is more geared towards spinning off a separate “instant messaging” company and going cross-platform makes it a valuable proposition. The company to be re-christened as BBM Inc. is expected to operate as a instant messaging company pitting itself against the likes of much popular Whatsapp and Facebook who have aggressively cornered a healthy market share in the mobile instant messaging space.
Will BBM Inc. be valuable enough as an instant messaging company?
While the move to take BBM cross-platform on Android and iOS makes sense, I wonder if BBM Inc. still has enough merit to appear a valuable standalone company.
The incumbents (Whatsapp, Facebook) have a lions share of the market already
From a pure numbers perspective, Blackberry has 60 million active users against 300 million of Whatsapp. While one might argue that Whatsapp is already cross-platform which could explain its higher active users, one needs to realize that more than the numbers Whatsapp is now ubiquitous with instant messaging on mobile.
Add to that, Facebook’s insane reach and its aggressive push to own the mobile space including instant messaging. In addition to that, there are numerous other mobile instant messaging services that already exist making it extremely difficult for BBM to make a mark on its own. Infact, the latest app ecosystem reports suggest that 6 out of top 10 apps on Google Play store (Android) are instant messaging apps. If anything this might make it easier for existing blackberry users to switch to an Android, iOS device without losing the BBM functionality
According to senior executives at Blackberry, BBM’s USP lies in its security, reliability and immediacy harping on the underlying fact that BBM is a private network.
A secure, private instant messaging service is not really a strong USP
Yes, Blackberry as a company has always prided itself on security be it it’s secure e-mail servers or even the BBM. However, security as a feature is not a deal clincher in the consumer market. Security is a prized feature when it comes to the enterprise market which Blackberry has seen success with but for the mobile phone market at large, I fail to see touting BBM’s security features being a differentiator
It will be interesting to see how BBM Inc. fares as an instant messaging company but one thing is for sure – Blackberry is doubtful to bounce back from what appears like a sell-out either in parts or as a whole. Will BBM Inc. make the parts more attractive the whole is something we will all have to watch out for
What are your thoughts on Blackberry’s move to make BBM cross-platform on iOS, Android and positioning BBM Inc. as a separate subsidiary