Blackberry says its BBM software now has 20 million users on iOS and Android devices. Add that to BlackBerry’s own phone customers and there are 80 million people using BlackBerry Messenger software. Just to be clear, according to BlackBerry that’s 80 million active users not downloads.
And let’s not forget, this is after BlackBerry stumbled over the software launch.
Despite making the credible, if not exciting, Z10 smartphone and the last-ditch Z30, former smartphone champion BlackBerry has failed to recover its former customers. At least for phone hardware. Software could fix that.
BBM has been on BlackBerry devices for around a decade. Originally it was simply an instant message service. In recent years it has expanded to include video calling. Fans regard it as a reliable business tool.
The service became notorious when there were reports of rioters in London using BBM to co-ordinate violence.
Since BlackBerry’s heyday interest in BBM, even among BlackBerry users, has fallen. This could be set to change with the new versions allowing users of other phones to contact their BlackBerry-owing friends.
While 20 million sign-ups in two weeks is an impressive performance, BlackBerry still has a long way to go. BBM’s nearest rival in the non-BlackBerry world is Whatsapp with 300 million users. Facebook has similar functionality and Apple has its own service for iOS users.
Does BlackBerry have a hit on its hands? Not if the company doesn’t quickly build on 20 million downloads during October. But at least there’s a glimmer of hope for the ailing phone maker.