Its no secret that BlackBerry could use some money. The company has been hemorrhaging cash for the past few years, and with device sales not expected to recover anytime soon, it has to look towards other options. Ever since BlackBerry Messenger was opened up to other platforms, its user base has swelled to over 85 million. The company now looks to cash in on that. Its banking on the popularity of stickers, and will also offer brands the opportunity to sponsor posts in BBM channels.
Stickers have become quite popular in cross-platform messaging apps, particularly in Asia. The upcoming BBM update for BlackBerry, iOS and Android, which launches next week, comes with BBM Shop. Its essentially a marketplace to sell good, though BlackBerry says that only products relevant to the chat experience will be sold. To kick things off, BlackBerry has commissioned an artist to create stickers which will be available through BBM Shop.
BBM Channels is a Twitter-like service that lets people broadcast messages to large groups of people, or followers. BlackBerry will charge companies who wish to get a prominent position on Channels’ featured channels page. It will also charge them for sponsored posts, which will be displayed in the “Updates” section of BBM. Sponsored posts will be clearly marked and will invite the user to subscribe to that particular channel.
The company will also offer sponsored invites which will show up in users’ “invites” section. While some might consider this intrusive, the company says that it would ensure users only receive low single digit number of sponsored invitations each month. BlackBerry will also ensure that sponsored posts and invitations are geographically relevant. Users will have the ability to ignore a company, so that particular company won’t be able to send an invite again.
This goes to show that BlackBerry has now started looking at BBM as a business. It has already suffered at the hands of other popular cross platform messaging services, certainly it would serve BB’s own interests to monetize BlackBerry Messenger now.