After a hiatus of many years Blackberry’s popular messaging platform BBM returned to my phone for a trial. Before I get into any thoughts on how it performed I wanted to chat about the continued transformation at Blackberry.
In my last blog on Blackberry, titled “Blackberry and the Game of Go”, I spoke about how “Blackberry has come out swinging for the fences.” Blue Hill Research has seen CEO John Chen continue to lay the stones needed to bring Blackberry back into the enterprise as a true mobile device for business. He has strategically steered the company’s focus away from consumer electronics and instead towards enterprise goals. As mentioned previously, Chen’s decision to offload hardware manufacturing liability to Foxconn set the initial stage. Since, he has steadily reshaped BlackBerry’s global sales team, its enterprise services team, its developer relation’s team, and created a new cloud business division within QNX. Like my BBM app I welcome BlackBerry back to again being an enterprise-focused company.
The departure of BBM’s EVP Andrew Bocking is no real surprise. Often times leaders want to play a strategy of strength on strength enabling top leaders such as John Sims, President, Global Enterprise Solutions, to add the BBM team to his organization. Mr. Sims’s prior role at SAP and his global experience in mobile messaging will further allow Blackberry to truly focus on the enterprise. I agree with other pundits who state that BBM’s competition is no longer Whatsapp, but rather Skype, Yammer, and every other enterprise communications tool. BBM has a good head start, but must win back the hearts and mind of its community again.
BBM is currently available on BlackBerry, iPhone and Android. It is rumored to have over 80 million downloads plus one more (confirmed) this weekend! On Friday Blackberry announced “BBM Voice and BBM Channels Now Available for Android and iPhone Customers.” Blackberry went on to say that “BBM will be available later today for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB) customers, giving them lots of exciting new features. Android and iPhone customers will now be able to make free voice calls to BBM contacts over a Wi-Fi or data connection with BBM Voice, as well as access BBM Channels. In addition, BBM customers on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones will have more to chat about with fast one-click sharing of photos, documents, voice notes and more. BBM customers will also be able to share their live location for a specified amount of time with other BBM contacts by using location sharing, powered by Glympse, and will have 100 new emoticons available to help them say what’s on their mind.”
I have tested the BBM app and found it to be the BBM of old albeit with lots of features that I have grown accustomed to with other communication apps. However, I do have one complaint; when I select individual contacts to “invite” to BBM via SMS, the app grabs the mobile numbers of ALL of my contacts and adds them into the “To:” field. This should be fixed immediately as users will not want to SMS spam every mobile number, but would prefer instead to selectively choose the best number for their BBM communications and chats. Overall BBM is a thumb’s up, but better yet Blackberry is coming back home to the enterprise. I look forward to the parade, please BBM me once it’s confirmed.
What do you think of the new BBM and Blackberry’s renewed focus on the enterprise?