The Monetization of BBM and the BlackBerry Faithful

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I have been a long time reader of the BlackBerry community. Since I chose BlackBerry as my first smartphone, I have always consumed as much as I could about the phones I loved. Even during a short period when I left the platform, I continued to read about BlackBerry, frustrated that I didn’t have one. There were sites that I loved and some that I would just skim as oftentimes there just seemed to be a rehash of the same news. In the end though, I was a BlackBerry fanatic searching for whatever info I could find.

But I was a fairly quiet member of the community. It wasn’t until the advent of BB10 and the subsequent media trolling, and the disappointment in what was happening at the sites that I loved, that I started playing an active part in the community. I was someone that may have asked questions in a forum a handful of times over the course of years, to an extremely active poster that would have double digit post counts over the course of a day.

I had never really had much of an online life, in fact I didn’t even have a Myspace or Facebook page until a certain girl gave me reason to. The Myspace and Facebook pages are long gone now, along with that girl. But the BlackBerry community, or more likely, fighting for the BlackBerry community pulled me in. And I started to meet people. Obviously, this all led to UTB. And that’s a story we’ll tell again another time.
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Today however, I received a message from an old friend. Believe it or not, it’s the first person I met when I became a more vocal member of the community. The first person that wasn’t that aforementioned girl that I had as a BBM contact. This person is another rock solid BlackBerry fan. Someone that had tried to start a positive BlackBerry campaign during a time when negativity was the norm. An all around great guy. He requested that I do a post about something that I have seen and heard quite a bit of chatter about recently.

The topic was the monetization of BBM, and why the BlackBerry faithful need to pay for features. Of course, speaking of the BBM subscriptions that are available to us.

As I said, I’ve seen this being spoken of a lot, but typically when I see this, it’s people I don’t know. This time it’s different. It’s someone I know, and that I know is a fan.
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Obviously, UTB is a fan site. There is a certain amount of bias here. You’ll never hear us saying that we’re merely a news site in order to justify pushing a negative agenda. I don’t pretend to be an unbiased journalist. I’m not. I have a fairly strong opinion about the subscriptions.

I like them.

The question was how to monetize BBM. The answer so far has been stickers, and advertising, and now services. I’m all for it. I think it’s great. I ‘ve bought entirely too many stickers, I purchased a custom pin the minute it became available. I bought them because I use them, I find the price to be reasonable, and I feel like I’m supporting BlackBerry by doing so. I haven’t purchased the other subscription, as I don’t mind the advertisements, and I haven’t had the need for the retraction (I call it the take back button) or timed messages beyond what we are given as freebies. Yet. But when I do, I will subscribe.

Obviously my friend sees things differently. His question is why are we having to pay for features, the BlackBerry faithful? And I can see the reasoning behind this.
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As BlackBerrians, we have a different outlook than our neighbors on other platforms. We want a couple of key things, security and privacy, and we’re willing to pay for it. While our neighbors seem to have an expectation of free apps, at the cost of massive amounts of advertising and data collection, we’ve never had a problem paying for apps that don’t inundate us with ads and keep our private matters private. I assure you this is not a matter of money for users.

BBM has gone cross platform. What was once our exclusive messenger app, is now being used by all the other platforms. And that’s a good thing. I was able to force all my friends on to BBM. We lost our exclusivity, but we gained the ability to chat with others on BBM that we weren’t able to before.

But the problem is, we have BlackBerry phones. Most of us here have had them since long before BBM went cross platform. And I think it is a justifiable thought that we should have a superior BBM experience on a BlackBerry than those on other platforms.

The question is how.

BlackBerry needs to monetize BBM. They need to provide the best BlackBerry experience possible, no matter what platform it’s on, in order to grow. And yet, I still want and expect, to have a better BBM than a friend that is on an iPhone or Android.

What do you think? Have you bought subscriptions? Play armchair CEO and tell us what BlackBerry could do with BBM that would feel like a reward for the BlackBerry faithful.

Are discounted subscriptions the way to go? Perhaps a new service that is only available to BlackBerry phones?

Brad

BlackBerry Elite Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs and UTB Geek. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.

  • Great article, Brad! I also have a Custom BBM PIN (which I purchased on the day they were announced). I don’t really use stickers, so my Custom PIN is a way that I can support BBM’s monetization in my own small way :)

    As for a better BBM than Android and iOS, BlackBerry could offer a number of features to us BlackBerry users:

    – File sharing (not just pictures) in Groups
    – Instant invites (Tap on a BBM avatar in a group chat to automatically start a private conversation if the person is already a BBM contact, or send an invite if they are not)

    I’m sure others will add to this list :)

  • veeru789

    I have two subscriptions. The custom pin and timed messages. I don’t mind paying for these subscriptions as I want BlackBerry to grow and keep making good products like they’ve always done. I can understand when someone says BlackBerry phone users should have some exclusive features. And we do have them. Video calling, screen share. So it’s a balance that BlackBerry is trying to achieve. Features for the faithful and revenue. And I’m OK with it. But the reason I choose BlackBerry is not just BBM. It’s the whole package. And if anyone says they are jumping ship because of this they are trolls.

  • shanerredflag

    Interesting issue…agree. On both sides. I too have custom pin, no adverts and BB$ Protected Bundle.

    I would love to see BlackBerry launch a pay service through BBM,, make it the guaranteed most secure available and free to BlackBerry device users.

  • oobergeek

    I wish BlackBerry would take it a step further and bundle the services with the subscriptions. I would gladly pay $20-30/yr for Pin, no ads, message retraction, BBM Protect etc. Make it appealing and useful for people to subscribe to.

  • ray689

    I have no problem paying for subscriptions as it is the business model. Being a supporter does not entitle me to freebies. Many people support a lot of companies in many industries yet still pay for their product like anyone else would. The sense of entitlement has to go. BlackBerry is a business.

  • puncheon45

    Gaming! BBM needs a few games that integrate BBM like Trivia Crack And Candy Crush integrate Facebook. Make a few games that are exclusive and integrated into BBM contacts, Channels and groups. there is massive income potential, both for add ons/power ups and commercial banners. Gaming would set BBM apart from the other messengers AND generate some cash flow

  • Anthony

    I have a custom PIN and I subscribe to Timed and Retracted Messages. Message retraction would be cooler if it completely removed the message, i.e I don’t want to see evidence a message was retracted locco_smiley_7

    Currently, it looks like the value of a messaging service is tied to number of users. A “Basic” version of BBM could give users all features but limited, Eg. one custom PIN, one timed or retracted message per day. Then a paid version of BBM would remove limits.

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