Can 10 million downloads in 24 hours of BlackBerry Messenger for iOS and Android devices help save the company? That question is being prompted by the popular response to the BBM versions made available earlier this week.
While 10 million have downloaded the software, however, only an unspecified portion have been able to use the service at this point. Because of the demand, BlackBerry has asked users to download the software, register, and then wait their turn to become activated in the service, so as not to overwhelm the system.
On Monday, the beleaguered smartphone maker announced that it was proceeding with its postponed release of BBM for the Android and iOS platforms. The previously scheduled release, initially planned for the end of September, had been postponed because the company had discovered that a bootlegged version for Android had been made available on several file sharing sites.
Top Spot on App Store
In response, the company said it needed to postpone release of both versions so it could permanently block the unauthorized version from the official ones, since the unofficial release had generated a level that was stressing the system.
BlackBerry got an early look at the heavy demand for Android/iOS BBM, since the unauthorized version had ballooned to nearly a million users within the first seven hours of its availability. Additionally, about 6 million users had signed up on the BBM site to receive more once the app was available for the two platforms.
Now, with 10 million downloads in the first 24 hours, the BBM app occupies the top spot in Apple App Store's free-app rankings for more than 75 countries, with the U.S., Canada and the U.K. included in that list. BlackBerry has also reaped over 60,000 five-star reviews on the Google Play marketplace, although some observers have noted that some of the reviews appear to be identical and therefore fake.
How to Monetize?
While the app is free -- and BlackBerry says it will remain so for the foreseeable future -- there could be a variety of non-monetary benefits from such popularity. Some BlackBerry-watchers have noted that the 10 million downloads show the brand is not yet exhausted, and it sets up a significant -- and possibly major -- social networking structure that could be spun off into a separate company, monetized within BlackBerry, or called upon to boost BlackBerry's overall value in the event that a sale of the company goes through.
But Avi Greengart, an analyst at industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out that "the company has not said how they intend to monetize" the software. While they could, of course, add advertising or premium for-a-fee levels, or sell white label versions for businesses, Greengart points out a deeper problem.
By making available a popular version for the two dominant and competing mobile platforms, he noted, BBM is "supporting those who are moving away from BlackBerry" onto these two platforms, or who have never been BlackBerriers. In other words, they've given users another reason to stay away.
Greengart said that such a move "would have been better to do two to three years ago, when the company could still pull people into the BlackBerry" products and network.