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BlackBerry Pitches BBM to Businesses

BlackBerry Pitches BBM to Businesses
December 19, 2013 11:03AM

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The use of BlackBerry's BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) in the enterprise started out ad hoc in many cases, but now the smartphone maker is emphasizing BBM’s value and capabilities. BlackBerry is definitely continuing to prioritize this aspect of the company as part of its recent effort to focus on enterprise users, said analyst Avi Greengart.

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A day after BlackBerry announced its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) will come bundled on LG phones, the Canadian smartphone maker is touting the mobile messaging platform for enterprises. The company said that over 85 percent of organizations running BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) were using BBM on BlackBerrys to help meet their compliance requirements.

The company said that BBM offers data that is secure whether it is at rest or in transit, and that in-transit data can be encrypted on BlackBerry OS end-to-end “from the CPU through the OS, file system and the applications level.”

Andrew Bocking, BlackBerry’s Executive Vice President of BBM, said in a statement that organizations are choosing BBM because of its communication and collaboration features, but also because BBM on BlackBerry smartphones in BES organizations can “track and log BBM communications” and thus meet the compliance requirements that companies in regulated industries must satisfy, as well as meet privacy and security standards.

Features for Businesses

Aside from compliance, security and privacy, the features that BlackBerry is pitching to businesses include the BBM software’s high quality and low-cost long distance calling, video chatting, screen sharing, ability to host up to 30 people in a BBM group, and private BBM channels. The channels, announced last month, each offer a page of messages and updates for a given BlackBerry ID in a one-to-many broadcasting format that has been compared to Twitter.

The channels have been targeted primarily at businesses, which can promote their existences through sponsored posts, invites, QR codes in ads, or BlackBerry’s own index of featured channels. Channels can also be integrated with campaigns on large social networks like Twitter or Facebook, and channel-based analytics are available to measure user response.

The company pointed to such use case examples as the Canadian Diabetes Association, which said it used BBM for “emergency situations where e-mail would be unreliable," and added that the service is integrated into the association's business continuity plan.

‘Focus on Enterprise’

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told us that BlackBerry is “definitely continuing to prioritize this aspect of the company,” as part of its recent effort to “focus on enterprise users.”

He noted that the company said the use of BBM in the enterprise “started out ad hoc” in many cases, but now the smartphone maker is emphasizing BBM’s value and capabilities.

Along with the LG news, Greengart said it’s clear that BlackBerry is trying to position BBM both for consumer markets through distribution on multiple brands, and for the business market as the secure, trackable solution when used with the company’s smartphone and Enterprise Server.

Last month, BlackBerry announced that BBM will come preinstalled on various Android-based models of smartphones in Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin America and the Middle East. The makers, not as well known as LG, included Brightstar, Micromax, Mito, Spice, TiPhone and Zen.

Available in versions for iOS and Android as well as Blackberry, the popular BBM can become a substantial revenue stream and added selling point but it does not appear to be sufficient to save the company. Some analysts have speculated that BBM could generate about $300 million annually in mobile ad revenue, far short of the almost $1 billion the company lost in the second quarter alone.

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