Evolution of BBM Channels


BBM Channels is a unique mobile-social experience. A larger than life form of twitter but smaller than Tumblr, it has its unique microcosm of network that informs, educates and entertains; all in one go. After the very special talk with BBM-EMTEK CEO Matthew Talbot, I was spurred on to imagine how the channels stand to benefit from this unique partnership.

  1. As a news medium. New age media should explore this option; as of date, the mobile website is a pale reflection of the desktop version. Mobile version is shorn of videos, interactive content or evolving summary. It was developed as part of minimalist browsing experience.I am genuinely surprised that why the big names haven’t explored BBM channels in a big way. With the addition of video, channels can be easily serviced as a medium to target focused users. Advertisers get accurate matrix about their subscribers, engagement trends and with the addition of payment models in backend, a unique system of micro payments or paywall exclusive content. Private channels can be sent out to subscribers on payment. Breaking news or behind the scenes raw footage can be pushed out to subscribers who wish to see how a story is developing. The problem is that currently advertisers only see Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter as social networks but have variable metrics on how the ad-spends are making a bang for their buck.

    News applications are difficult to maintain. What channels offers is the best bang for the buck. It’s an established platform, there are tonnes of changes behind the scenes that will be rolled out eventually and a great amount of user stickiness. A dedicated news app is pretty useless if the engineering resources aren’t done right. It will be a victim of user blindness.

  2. Chat functionality can be enhanced with the additional option of multi-group chats, instead of current one-to-one chat. This, if and when mated, to any desktop version, we would have a unique private, social media experience that’s covered under the layers of BlackBerry security. Channels, hence, can be used to troubleshoot or allowed on user specific basis to help users or provide support.
  3. Mr. Talbot also mentioned that the BBM UI is being re-engineered and the updates are going to roll out from early next year. This means better search and discoverability in the channels (yay!) Hopefully, we’ll see a better system for comments and handling the channel spam.

What’s important is that big media companies should critically evaluate BBM Channels. There have been many instances of high handedness of Snapchat (or Twitter, for that matter which is known to inflate metrics to boost revenues and cheat advertisers). Beyond that, none of the social networks (beyond snapchat/instagram) have actually cracked the mobile landscape and remains a fad. Ethereal messaging (like disappearing snaps) will be copied by all (eventually) leaving very small differential.

BBM, on the other hand, is well integrated with BlackBerry suite of products. By labelling a channel as my favourite, I can easily get notifications on my BlackBerry hub. This comes in handy when I need to be alerted on rapidly evolving story or posted content on the channels I am following.

One of the biggest gainers will be e-commerce companies, that will be able to showcase the deals available. Pair this with payments (BBM Checkout) (mated to the legendary BBM security), I have a killer deal. Imagine, the deal on Amazon (for arguments sake) that will last only for 30 minutes. I get notified as soon as the deal goes live. With the hassle free experience of BBM Checkout, I have the product with minimal botheration. Win-win situation for everyone.

As I see it, BBM Channels will enable deeper brand engagement as well. Verified “manufacturers” will get the channel spotlight to enable products to be sold to consumers directly.

BBM channels is set to soar. We have very high expectations out of it. We also know that the team will deliver it to the hilt!


BlackBerry Forever!