BlackBerry Ltd aims to become the WeChat of Indonesia

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BlackBerry intends to transform its BBM messaging app into a platform that serves multiple purposes, such as watching video, shopping online and getting celebrity updates. The hugely popular Chinese app WeChat serves as an inspiration for the Canadian firm.

WeChat an inspiration for BBM

BlackBerry is left with a meager share of the handset market and wishes to make it big in the software and services business. To fulfill this, it has entered into a deal with Indonesia’s top media company, PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk. The deal is meant to bring BlackBerry’s video content onto BBM and develop new apps and services for the messaging app. Emtek will pay a fee to BlackBerry for each BBM user who sees its content. Mackey said Indonesia is the focus of this deal as of now, but it has the potential to expand to other countries as well.

BlackBerry’s head of corporate development, James Mackey, told the Financial Post in a phone interview, “We want to make exactly that type of offering in Indonesia but we also want to make it global.”

Emtek is building an office in the Toronto area to work on the partnership. Around 80 to 100 BlackBerry employees will shift there, said Mackey.

Indonesia remains a BlackBerry stronghold

BlackBerry is hugely popular in Indonesia with 60 million users in the country, forming a major chunk of its 90 million worldwide BBM users. BBM has helped the company maintain its foothold in Indonesia where it is used as the main form of communication. The BBM software is not restricted to just BlackBerry handsets and supports different platforms, including Android and iOS.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen is working on finding ways to generate extra revenue from the assets he has in hand to offset the declining phone sales. Making BBM serve multiple purposes will surely help Chen in his efforts.

WeChat is used by millions of Chinese to navigate their daily lives. This app from Tencent Holdings integrates social media, payments, messaging, web browsing, and more into a single application. The all-in-one messaging concept has gained significant popularity among tech firms such as Facebook and Apple. All major tech firms have entered into partnerships to allow customers to directly chat with businesses and make payments through their apps.

On Tuesday, BlackBerry shares closed up 3.02% at $6.48. Year to date, the stock is down almost 31%, while in the last year, it is down by over 24%. The stock has a 52-week high of $9.63 and a 52-week low of $5.96.

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