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BBM for Android now has over 100 million downloads

BBM for Android

BBM hasn’t been much in the news lately. The last time we heard about it was when it was reported to be getting an Android Wear app. Despite skepticism from the public initially, the app has proven to be quite successful for the Canadian manufacturer. A new report now tells us that BBM for Android has successfully surpassed 100 million downloads on the Play Store.

This still doesn’t tell us about the active users who are involved with the app though, so we’re not sure if these numbers mean a whole lot at this point. The app is over 17 months old now and reaching the 100 million milestone is a commendable feat indeed.

BlackBerry said the following on BBM reaching 100 million downloads:

“BBM for Android has officially achieved a milestone on the Google Play Store: 100 million installs. That puts BBM in the top tier of messaging apps on Google Play, and we got there in a little over a year as we first posted BBM for Android in late October 2013. We have 3.7 million reviews, and just shy of 2.4 million of them are five stars.”

The last point made by the company is quite important as it shows that customers are satisfied with the application. Are you a user of BBM?

Source: BlackBerry Blog

Via: Android Central

Android Wear will soon get its own BBM app

BBM Logo

BBM Logo

Android Wear can handle a myriad of notifications right now, including the likes of Snapchat, Gmail and even BBM. BlackBerry has now announced a dedicated BBM app for the Android Wear platform, which will bring some additional functionality. As of now, the stock BBM app on Android can only send message notifications to your Android Wear device, but this new addition will allow you to accept invitations from new friends, reply with a predefined message etc.

The announcement was made at CES by BlackBerry with the app expected to arrive very soon, although the company didn’t divulge launch related details. Here’s what the app will bring to Android Wear devices:

Without touching your phone you can:

See who a new message is from and read it – while loading grocery bags into the back of your car
Review and accept invites from would-be BBM contacts while on the go
Flip through several messages to find that one with the address you’re looking for – while carrying a coffee
Pick from a list of pre-defined messages to quickly send a response – while in a meeting (or class 😉 )
Use your voice and Google Now to respond to messages hands-free.

Source: BlackBerry

BBM 2.1 for Android brings support for stickers, larger file transfers

BBM 2.1 for Android brings support for stickers, larger file transfers

BlackBerry is continuing its streak of coming up with constant improvements to the BBM client for Android (and iOS), and with the latest update, the Canadian company is jumping on the stickers bandwagon to make the messaging experience more visual than it has been before, following in the footsteps of other popular messaging apps like Line and WeChat. (more…)

BBM for Android now compatible with Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices

BBM for Android now compatible with Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices

While Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean might have taken over more than 50 percent of all devices running Android, the hard and cold truth is that there are still a considerable amount of phones running on Gingerbread. For BlackBerry, not having the BBM app support that old-but-still-active version of Android has allowed competing apps like WhatsApp and Line to continue to lead, but now, it’s a lead that could be noticeably shortened.  (more…)

Can BBM’s new channels and voice features keep users engaged?

BlackBerry has updated BBM with voice calling, channels and Dropbox integration. Will this move be enough to keep users engaged?

BBM Voice for Android

I must admit I was one of the many iOS and Android device users who got all excited when BlackBerry announced an official release of BlackBerry Messenger for these platforms. I was once a BlackBerry user myself, and I missed the fast and feature-rich messaging service the company offered. The thought of again using BBM to chat with friends and colleagues around the globe was a novel idea for me, never mind that a lot of my contacts have long since moved to other chat platforms like LINE, Viber and even Facebook Messenger.

Cross-platform BBM did launch with a bang, and it brought up user numbers well beyond what a BlackBerry-only setup could offer. Now there are reportedly over 100 million BBM users globally, which means BBM is still a viable contender against other chat apps that have popped up out of the blue.

Now, BlackBerry has released version 2.0 of the cross-platform app, which comes with the promised features previously found only on the native BlackBerry application. These include voice calling, channels, and Dropbox integration, among others. This comes right at the heels of BlackBerry offering a Find Friends feature, which does away with the need to share your BBM pin with friends. The feature makes BBM more popular among social media-savvy users who are used to their networks being automatically populated with users already in their address books.

With BBM Voice, the app competes head-on against the likes of Skype and Viber. With Channels, BBM also competes against apps that offer forum-type functionality. This should rekindle interest in the application, especially for users who find the previous iterations too limiting in terms of social capabilities.

But will these features keep BBM relevant among Android and iOS users? It’s a matter of user uptake — in particular how many of your friends continue to use BBM for chatting and participating in channel discussions. BBM’s Find Friends feature will ensure you have a big enough network of friends to talk to. The new channels and video calling features might help keep users engaged enough to remain active on the service.

As for me, after several months of BBM sitting on my smartphone mostly unused, I decided to uninstall it a few weeks back — and that was right before BBM launched its Find Friends feature. I didn’t find the need to run BBM as I rarely used to to chat, anyway. Most of my contacts preferred talking on other chat apps. In fact, since the app is quite heavy on resource usage (even when sitting idle), I found the need to keep it Greenified.

So it’s a question of resource use versus utility. If I mainly used BBM to keep in touch with my contacts, I probably would consider it as an essential app. However, that not being the case, I think the value for me here is the occasional check on the BBM channels for good content, references and discussions. At least for me, BlackBerry has succeeded in keeping the app relevant in terms of engagement and interest, but not enough to make it a primary means of communication.

This is the challenge for BBM. The division that builds and maintains the app has now been folded into BlackBerry’s Global Enterprise Solutions division, which means the company is likely to focus development with the enterprise user in mind. This might be seen as a step back — BBM was popular in the enterprise setting before, but the BlackBerry attempted to popularize it among the consumer market, as well, with the cross-platform app. Perhaps enterprise users are a better market to target, due to their need for collaboration, better centralized control and secure messaging.

It’s not as huge a market as the hundreds of millions that were willing to pay LINE more than $300 in 2013 for in-app sticker purchases. But it seems BBM won’t go down without a fight, and it’s probably going to find its niche in its home turf, the entrprise market.

BBM 2.0 update brings voice calling, Channels, Dropbox integration, and more

BBM 2.0 update brings voice calling, Channels, Dropbox integration, and more

BBM might not be a cool thing anymore, but that hasn’t stopped BlackBerry from putting a strong emphasis on improving the BBM offering on Android (and iOS). Today, the company is rolling out the most feature-packed update to BBM yet, adding much of the functionality it had promised to bring to the competing OS’.

The update takes the app to version 2.0, and brings some major features. There’s BBM Channels, which lets users join various topics of discussion and talk about things with other BBM users. Users can now make calls to their BBM contacts via a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, a one-click sharing button enables quick sharing of photos, documents, voice notes and more, and conversations can now be more emotional through the addition of more than 100 emoticons. Last but not the least, version 2.0 brings Dropbox integration – you can send files from your Dropbox account to a BBM contact, who in turn can download the file and add it to his/her Dropbox.

It’s a good update for those who’ve actually found BBM worthy enough for use as (one of) their messaging mediums, bringing the Android (and iOS) version closer to the native BlackBerry version of BBM. Download the latest version from the Play Store (it isn’t live yet, but should be in a couple of hours.)

BBM for Android gets Find Friends feature, no longer requires PIN sharing

BBM-for-iPhone-and-Android

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for Android hasn’t managed to make a considerable dent in the messaging platform wars, and apart from the fact that BBM is no longer cool and has been replaced by more popular services like WhatsApp, the rather inconvenient requirement of having to share your PIN to add new friends has been one of the biggest issues users have found with BlackBerry’s messaging service.

Well, BlackBerry was listening to its consumers, and it has decided to remove the need to share a PIN for inviting new users by introducing a new feature to BBM called Find Friends. With Find Friends, users can simply scan their contacts to detect those are using BBM, and then add them to their BBM contact list, or invite them to download BBM if they aren’t using it at the moment (chances are, they aren’t interested, and no one can blame them.) Of course, Find Friends isn’t going to help BlackBerry too much in seeing an increased number of active users for BBM on Android (and iOS), though it’s still a welcome feature that should have been there from the start.

Head over to Google Play to download the latest version of BBM – it doesn’t seem to have gone live yet, but that should change in the next few hours.

Beta version of BBM for Android gets voice calling and Channels

BBM Audio CallsThe BBM app for Android and iOS devices was launched a few months ago to massive public demand. However, there are very few who still use the app. And in order to make things interesting for them, BlackBerry was reported to be working on bringing voice and video call features to the app. One of these features has now made its way to the Beta version of the BBM Android app. There’s still no word on when this will make its way out of Beta and hit the consumer version, but it’s good to know what’s going on behind the scenes at BlackBerry.

The app also gets something known as Channels which broke cover only two months ago on BlackBerry 10 smartphones. This basically lets users interact with other BBM users regarding a topic of common interest. Users can also create their own Channels and let people from all over the world comment and drop their opinion. These features make its way with version 200.0.0.138 of the beta release, which isn’t accessible to all, obviously. But if you’re lucky enough to have access to the Beta release of BBM for Android, make sure you give the updated BBM a look.

Source: BlackBerry Empire

Via: Cult of Android

BBM pre-installed: Will Android partnerships help get BlackBerry back in the game?

BBM-for-iPhone-and-Android

BlackBerry (formerly Research-in-Motion) seems to be serious in its efforts to relive its glory days at the top of the smartphone ecosystem. Newly-appointed CEO John Chen expects the company to be profitable again by 2016, and the new management is aggressive at pursuing partnerships with device makers in bundling its instant messaging app and network, BlackBerry Messenger.

Chen says the work will not be easy, but BlackBerry is taking things a step at a time. “My step one was to have the company financially out of harm’s way,” he told media earlier this week. “I can’t say I’ve done it today, but we are on a good path.”

A few weeks after BBM for iOS and Android officially launched, the company announced an install base of 20 million, which brought up the total BBM install base to 80 million. This December, BlackBerry said the total install base has been brought up to 40 million, bringing the total to about 100 million, including devices running iOS, Android and BlackBerry’s own operating systems.

Recently, BlackBerry also entered into a partnership with LG, which will bundle BBM with its Android smartphones, starting with the G Pro Lite and other models thereafter. This is seen as a big boon to the Canadian company, which is banking on its enterprise services and communications platform as a means to extend its reach across other platforms like iOS and Android.

Downloads vs. Active users

Speaking of numbers, however, while 100 million is a good figure for a company supposedly on the decline, some service providers have criticized the use of supposedly inflated figures in counting a user base. In particular, WhatsApp has lashed out at rivals (including, but not limited to, BBM), which usually cite their number of downloads as their primary metric when releasing numbers to the press. As of this week, WhatsApp says it has surpassed 400 million monthly active users, an increase of 100 million in just four months. It’s worth stressing here that this figure involves people who actually use WhatsApp to communicate at least once a month.

In contrast, WhatsApp says competitors usually use raw downloads as their main metric — some service providers would rather focus on how many people have downloaded the application, without necessarily considering if the app is being regularly used. It’s tantamount to padding their figures, and the metric would include apps that are bundled in with devices, but never get used anyway.

One step at a time

For BlackBerry, therefore, having BBM pre-installed on LG devices is just the first step. The company would also have to ensure that users actually activate BBM by signing up for a new account and regularly using the app to communicate. Perhaps LG and BlackBerry should offer incentives to users to actually activate and use BBM.

And then, of course, BlackBerry will need to get BBM prominently marketed across other brands, too. Samsung is probably the best target here, being the leading Android brand in terms of sales. But since Sammy has its own ChatON platform, it may not be likely that it will give that spot to BBM (although various chat apps could co-exist, of course).

Still, partnerships with Android device manufacturers are a good step — this gets BlackBerry’s foot in the door. What happens next will be important, however, in ensuring BBM remains an active chat platform and ecosystem.

BlackBerry Reaches 40 Million BBM Users on iOS and Android

BBM

Well here’s a product from BlackBerry that people want to try out. In the 60 days since the service was launched for iOS and Android, BlackBerry has had 40 million new users join BBM. While this is good, it doesn’t point out how many users are still on BBM. I know many people who have tried and then deleted BBM.

But BlackBerry and LG announced earlier this week that BBM will be preloaded on other manufacturer’s devices. The first manufacturer is LG with their LG Pro Lite. That should help BlackBerry with getting more BBM users as well.

So do you still use BBM? Are you glad that it will be getting more features soon?

Via: CrackBerry

The best Android messaging clients of 2013

Final

This year saw a lot of new instant messaging clients rise to the fore on Android, with each client offering a set of unique elements that distinguishes it from the rest. Let’s take a look at some of the best and fastest growing messaging clients:

WhatsApp

Messaging_Global

With a total user base of over 350 million, WhatsApp is the biggest messaging service in the world. After Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging client in the U.S. WhatsApp is the number one choice for users in countries like South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia among others. The WhatsApp is continuing to add new features to the client, the most recent of which is the ability to send voice messages.

WhatsApp has also launched a new API that allows websites to embed share buttons, which users can use to share content directly with their friends using the service. WhatsApp’s business model revolves around an annual subscription, with every user paying $0.99 yearly for using the service.  There is no other revenue model in sight, but with an active user base of over 350 million, even charging as low as $0.99 a user would result in a significant amount of revenue.

However, there is a dearth of features that are offered by WhatsApp. While other services like Line and WeChat offer stickers, voice and video calling, WhatsApp has stuck with messaging as its core offering. It does let users share images and videos, but its interface is utilitarian when seen against the likes of Kik.

LINE

line

Japanese messaging client Line is seeing widespread usage in Western countries, and now boasts 300 million monthly active users. Line claims that it is pushing 22 billion messages across the world on a daily basis.

Although most of Line’s user base belongs to countries like Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain and India, it is seeing a lot of growth in France, Germany, U.K. and the U.S. Line distinguishing feature comes in the form of stickers. Stickers are emoticon-like images, packs of which can be bought on Line’s store. These are usually a mix of cartoon characters and emoji.  Users can embed purchased as well as free stickers in chat conversations. In addition to stickers, Line also offers free voice and video calls to other Line users.

Stickers_Revenue

Additional sticker packs contribute a lot of money to Line’s coffers. The latest sales figures indicate that the messaging service is making $10 million a month in sticker sales. Along with stickers, Line is making money selling games and other content that users can buy within its messaging client. Overall revenue generated from sales for Q2 2013 exceeded $132 million, and it looks like those numbers will be on the rise as Line has announced new services that will debut next year. These include Line Music and Line Mall. The next milestone for Line is to crack the U.S. market, and although details on how it will do that are not mentioned yet, but there will be a Line app store that will cater to its other software along with its messaging client.

WeChat

WeChat_China

Chinese messaging client signified its intent to reach a global audience by bringing in football (soccer) star Lionel Messi for its advertising efforts. And it seems to be working, as WeChat crossed 100 million users outside China in October. The client is slowly beginning to attract more users in western countries, but the majority of WeChat’s users still reside in China, and this is where most of its revenue comes from. In China, WeChat has a user base of 600 million. WeChat combines the features of a messaging client with a location-awareness service, and this allows users to discover other WeChat users in their vicinity.

WEChat growth

After Line, which saw a year-on-year growth of almost 900 percent, WeChat saw the most amount of growth in terms of users. While profitability has not been the goal for the creators of WeChat, that might change soon as it was announced back in August that Tencent is making a big push for gaming. Tencent looks to amass significant revenues by offering paid games and other services on WeChat soon.

Kik

Kik, the messaging service out of Waterloo, Canada, announced that it crossed 100 million users last week, half of them from the U.S. The HTML5 based service introduced Kik Cards. Kik has essentially built in a mobile web browser, through which users can search and send videos and images from within the client. Third-party developers can also build Kik Cards, with Zynga and Sony getting in on the action.

Ted Livingston, the creator of Kik, said that the transformation in the way we consume mobile content led to the formation of Kik Cards. He said, “At the core of this browser is a username-based mobile messenger. How do we discover new websites? Usually it’s when someone e-mails me a link. We think it’ll be the same on mobile. The messenger is a critical part of the mobile Web.” Kik raised $19.5 million from Union Square Ventures earlier this year, and has amassed 70 million users this year. According to Livingston, Kik Cards is the first feature in the burgeoning Kik ecosystem that includes games, stickers and ads.

One advantage that Kik has is that it is primarily being used by teens. In a survey, it has been found that teens in the U.S. are now migrating to services other than Facebook and Twitter. According to social media analyst Michael McQueen, Facebook is now being used mainly by individuals over the age of 30. As traditional social networks like Facebook see a decline in their numbers, other services and clients are using the lull to market their wares. One such service is Line.

BBM

BlackBerry’s decision to launch BBM for Android came at a taxing time for the Canadian organization. After a loss of almost a $1 billion in Q2 2013 and restructuring efforts that have seen the brand take in a $1 billion loan from Fairfax Financial and others, BlackBerry focused on software services to bring in additional revenue. This led to BBM’s launch on Android in October. Entering the Android messaging segment was uncharted territory for BlackBerry, and the task was made harder due to the fact that there already were a lot of established clients that boast users in the hundreds of millions.

Stats

However, BlackBerry was able to see significant interest in BBM on Android, and has seen downloads of over 20 million in the first week alone. That number is now at 50 million on Android. It is also seeing continued user engagement in the U.S. as well as other countries. BlackBerry is launching innovative new additions to ensure that interest in BBM does not die out, and one such feature that was introduced is BBM Channels. BBM Channels enables users to post status messages, create their own channel, and subscribe to other channels. It was unveiled today that BBM would come pre-installed on select LG devices, starting with the LG G Pro Lite. Similar deals are struck with services like Line being installed as default on Indian manufacturers like Micromax and Spice Mobiles. Chinese manufacturers tend to include WeChat on their handsets by default.

Aside from these messaging clients, there are other services that are also seeing to see a lot of consumer interest. One such service is Snapchat. Users can take images and videos, and then send it to their contacts on Snapchat. The catch here is that images and videos will automatically deleted, with users having the ability to set how fast they get deleted. The time range is from 1 to 10 seconds, after which the image will be deleted entirely.

After failing to acquire Snapchat for an alleged $3 billion, Facebook has launched Instagram Direct, which offers users the ability to share images with a select list of contacts.

This year, direct messaging clients have overshadowed SMS usage, and the trend is set to continue over the next few years. It has been estimated that the mobile messaging market will be worth $16 billion by 2016, with forerunners like WhatsApp and WeChat accounting for 46 percent of this figure.

BlackBerry Messenger Will Be Preloaded On LG Phones

BBM

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is about get more users, if people use the app. BlackBerry has announced a deal with LG that BBM will come pre-installed on LG smartphones. The LG Pro Lite will be the first phone to have BBM built-in.

It seems that emerging markets are being targeted by both companies, as the Pro Lite is an entry-level 5.5″ handset sold in Russia, China, India, and the Middle East. That’s an interesting market to target, but it will hopefully help BlackBerry in the long run. In some emerging markets, BlackBerry is still the most popular brand, because of the relatively cheap price.

This announcement follows BlackBerry’s hints that they secured deals with “leading OEMs” to have BBM come pre-installed on their handsets. The app will continue to be available as a separate download from both Google Play and the iOS App Store. So if you get an LG phone and it comes with BBM, will you use it?

Via: CrackBerry

BBM launches social integration, but are you chatting with anyone yet?

BBM-for-iPhone-and-Android

BlackBerry has launched an update to its BlackBerry Messenger for Android and iOS. The latest update includes support for the iPad and iPod Touch, plus additional features for both platforms. Perhaps the biggest update to this release would be social integration — BBM now lets users share their PINs on their social media accounts straight from within BBM. Previously, users would have to manually share these as screengrabs. BBM even launched this initiative along with its #BBMme hashtag, making it easier to discover other BBM users on social media.

Beyond simple social sharing, integration into social networks also means easier discovery for BBM users. When you share your PIN on Facebook, for instance, you can easily see who among your friends are also sharing their PINs, and you can  invite them from within BBM’s Facebook application.

A few weeks after launch, BlackBerry claims that BBM already has an install base of more than 20 million across iOS and Android platforms. This brings the total user base to about 80 million, including the 60 million or so BlackBerry users who are already chatting on BBM. While there had been an initial hype over the cross-platform launch of the chat client, the bigger hurdle now is how to grow the network beyond its existing fan base of loyal BlackBerry users and curious iPhone or Android smartphone users.

Here is where BBM is both at an advantage and disadvantage. BBM has been lauded for its security and privacy features, having originated as an enterprise application. Unlike other chat platforms that espouse openness and accessibility, it is not as easy to add a friend on BBM as it is on, say, WhatsApp, Viber or LINE. While most popular messaging apps would automatically add friends based on their mobile numbers, BBM would require you to share your PIN. And whenever you invite someone as a friend, that person would have to manually approve your request before you can start direct messaging on the platform. The same goes with group chatting.

You even have the option of quietly ignoring a request or politely declining with a response saying so. This underscores how much the platform values privacy. However, it does not bode well for growth. Automatically adding friends based on their phone numbers is a good way to jumpstart growth and to initiate engagement among users. Viber, for one, would automatically notify you once someone from your phonebook installs the app and gets into the network. But on BBM, this is not the case.

Are you on BBM with your friends yet?

Again, here lies the importance of social integration. Because users are already starting to share their PINs on BBM, and because the Facebook app itself would give recommendations of friends already on the network, it’s now easier to find friends already on the chat network.

But this begs the question: even if it’s now easier to invite someone into BBM, aren’t you already chatting with that friend on another cross-platform app? How about Facebook Messenger itself? Or perhaps another chat app? What would encourage you to move over your existing conversations to a platform that’s not as active as the others?

Then there’s also another big limiting factor: a BBM account only works on one particular device. This means you cannot easily jump from your smartphone to your web browser, to your tablet, and then another smartphone, unlike with Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts. Sure, you can move your BlackBerry account to another device — along with your PIN, in the case of iOS and Android — but it is not without some friction.

I, for one, am one of the millions of curious users who have jumped on the BBM bandwagon even ahead of its official launch  on Android and iOS. I used to be a BlackBerry user, and BBM was one of the things I missed, apart from the physical keyboard. When BBM officially launched across platforms, I tried setting up BBM groups in place of existing ones that I have with both family, friends and colleagues. In my experience, however, user uptake is not as good. Sure, I had friends. Yes, we established groups. But we ended up gravitating toward other messaging platforms. Again, there is friction.

Still, there is promise in BBM. Once BlackBerry launches its Channels, voice and video, and other features previously exclusive to BlackBerry devices, then perhaps users will become better engaged. For now, sure it’s easier to find friends on BBM. But the question is whether there is an incentive to actually use the platform for chatting when most of your friends are talking elsewhere.

BBM is a free download on Google Play. BBM this writer at 7BCF9AD0.

BBM Claims To Have 20 Million Active Users on Android and iOS

BBM

BlackBerry Messenger is quickly gaining more users after being out for only a week. After getting downloaded 10 million times in the first 24 hours and dropping the wait list this weekend, BlackBerry has announced that BBM now has 20 million active users on Android and iOS.

That’s a lot of active users for an app that is only a week old. Before releasing a standalone BBM app for Android and iOS, there were 55 million BBM users just on BlackBerry devices. Now that number has jumped to 80 million users. That’s a lot of people to chat with, if you want to.

Personally, I’ve been using BBM very much in the last week. I have 17 people in my contacts and about a little less than half of them still use BBM. That’s pretty good that some users still use BBM. I’ve been using it as an alternative to Direct Messages on Twitter since BBM doesn’t have a character limit.

Besides announcing that BBM has 20 million new active users, BlackBerry also says they will continue bringing new features to BBM for Android and iOS. Currently on a BlackBerry device you can use BBM Voice and BBM Video for audio and video chats and Android and iOS users will soon be able to use those features.

Android and iOS users will also be able to use BBM Channels, a feature that will let users communicate with brands and other people. From this, it sounds a lot like Twitter, FaceBook, and other social networks. That should also help people continue to use BBM over the coming months.

The Vice President of BBM for BlackBerry, Andrew Bocking, has also said that BBM will remain a free service for the foreseeable future. That’s good, as people would probably leave the service if it became a paid service. However, BlackBerry may start to include ads in the service as a result. But if the ads aren’t interfering with the service, then I’m fine with that.

So, here’s a big congrats to the folks at BlackBerry. They finally launched BBM and people actually want to use it. So did you download the app and do you still use the service?

Sources: BlackBerry via CrackBerry, CBC News