BlackBerry may not be doing well in the global smartphone market, but its instant messaging platform is still a hit in Indonesia. Even when many Indonesians no longer use a BlackBerry device, they do use BBM to chat with their friends and family, says a report from The Wall Street Journal.
What makes BBM a hit in Indonesia?
In January, BlackBerry said that BBM has over 55 million monthly active users, making it the top messaging app in Indonesia. According to U.K.-based social media consultancy We Are Social, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger trail BBM with around 50 million active users for each. In Indonesia, BlackBerry is a hit, while WhatsApp dominates the global messaging market with a billion monthly active users.
In 2014, BlackBerry launched features such as an in-app shop that offers stickers and other virtual items, mobile payments, and advertising tools for brands to increase its revenue. According to the Canadian firm, in Indonesia alone more than 750,000 channels have been created, inclusive of those created by major online retailers to promote their sales by engaging with consumers.
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BBM also enables users to pay for goods and virtual items. The Waterloo-based company says stickers are popular among the country’s trend-conscious Internet users with over 1 billion stickers sent and received each month.
According to Matthew Talbot, BlackBerry’s senior VP in charge of BBM, “We have seen WeChat in China lead the way in creating an ecosystem around chat in China, Line has also achieved this in Japan and KakaoTalk in Korea.”
But none have been able to hit the scale in Indonesia that they have with BBM, adds Talbot.
Will BlackBerry maintain its lead?
Analysts warn that BBM’s dominance can be challenged this year with rival messaging apps coming out with better features. Some even say that BlackBerry should decide the kind of platform it wants to be – a multi-chat app like We Chat or a pure messaging app like WhatsApp — and should focus on it to maintain its position in the country.
Referring to more than 700 additional apps specially tailored for Messenger, Jason Mander, director of research and insight at London-based market researcher GlobalWebIndex, believes it may be too late for BBM to try for a Facebook Messenger-style evolution, and thus, it should probably concentrate on its pure messaging function.
BlackBerry is confident that it can remain in the top position in Indonesia, the only market in the world where it is ahead of other messaging apps.