BlackBerry Messenger aims to reclaim its throne in Indonesia
By Masyitha Baziad November 28, 2016
- Emtek acquired the brand, IP and technology licensing rights of social messaging app BBM
- Sixty-eight million BBM users come from Indonesia
NEARLY six months after Indonesian media giant PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) acquired BlackBerry Limited’s Blackberry Messenger (BBM) through its subsidiary PT Kreatif Media Karya (KMK Online) in June, BBM is set to embark on a new journey.
According to Mumbrella Asia, Emtek acquired the brand, IP and technology licensing rights of social messaging app BBM.
The deal, worth US$207.5 million over six years, sees the owner of three of the country’s biggest free-to-air TV stations join forces with the 11 year-old messaging app, which remains hugely popular in Indonesia, its biggest market globally.
The agreement, does not include Blackberry’s enterprise business.
“We were faced by a situation where, in order for BBM to grow, it needed money, a lot of money. For BlackBerry, it was a catch-22 situation; the smartphone business was no longer making money as it used to, and they needed to focus on the more profitable business, which is software,” BBM chief executive officer Matthew Talbot (pic, right) told Digital News Asia in a phone interview recently.
“The best way for BBM to grow is to take the separate way and find the right partner that can nurture, grow, and advance BBM in the consumer market. The right partner will accelerate BBM, and the partnership with Emtek does just that,” he added.
According to Talbot, the partnership involves almost monthly product improvements and releases, an aggressive go-to market strategy, a marketing promotion push and talent expansion.
“The flexibility and aggressiveness is great. Now we can actually improve our product and release new features on a monthly basis. Back then with BlackBerry we could only release new features on a quarterly basis,” he said.
In a statement received by DNA, Emtek’s digital content arm, KMK Online chief executive officer Adi Sariaatmadja confirmed that Emtek currently owned the BBM software license and its intellectual property rights. BlackBerry will still develop its enterprise platform called BBM Protect.
“We have the rights now to operate the BBM platform globally as well as to develop the platform for the Indonesian market. We have also set up an operational office in Toronto, Canada in order to work closely with BlackBerry.
“We also have teams in Waterloo, Mississauga, and Ottawa, as well as Singapore, Jakarta, the United Arab Emirates, and Africa in a bid to push BBM to these market and ensure that the teams can work closely with each other,” he explained.
Triumph in Indonesia
Out of around 200 million BBM users worldwide, 34% or around 68 million users are from Indonesia alone, making BBM the top messaging app in the country.
“About 90% of our users in Indonesia are using BBM on Android devices,” Talbot said.
In its December 2015 Crossmedia Link Panel report, research firm GfK affirmed the claim, saying that BBM remains the country’s most popular application in Android, followed by WhatsApp in fourth place and Naver’s LINE in fifth.
The BBM app, according to the report, has been installed by 92% of smartphone owners in the key cities of Indonesia. The report also highlighted the fact that Indonesians love messaging apps, with smartphone users spending 60% of their app time messaging.
“When it comes to usage frequency and duration, BBM is ranked the highest, surpassing all other mobile apps by a huge margin. In the month of December, this app was used 518 times for an average of 652 minutes per user,” said the report.
According to Talbot, besides Indonesia, the other two big markets for BBM are the Middle East and Africa including Nigeria and South Africa.
“Although we cannot share the data, we are seeing BBM in Malaysia grow very quickly. I think this is because the value add that we have in the app as well as our headquarters in Singapore makes us really close to the Southeast Asia region,” Talbot said.
He added that growth is still very important for BBM in the country and they are aiming to add around 800,000 to one million monthly active users to the messaging platform, as well as growing the mobile ad business.
One app is all you need
Talbot said that while messaging is the most important application in users’ smartphones, it opens up the potential to scale up from just a messaging app, to an all-in-one app that can fulfil the needs of users.
KMK Online has six categories of portfolio with 14 companies and 18 products under its brand, including customer to customer (C2C) marketplace Bukalapak.com, virtual wallet Doku, e-commerce travel Reservasi, online video platform Vidio, property listing PropertyGuru and Rumah.com, as well as news portal Liputan6.com, Bola.com, and Bintang.
“With KMK Online’s diversified portfolios, BBM has the ability to tap into the other areas and collaborate to enrich the user experience in the BBM app,” Talbot said.
In October, BBM presented new BBM News feature powered by Liputan6.com, Bintang.com and Bola.com. It also has launched BBM Feeds, BBM Video, BBM Money, BBM Pulsa, BBM Game Centre, and recently BBM Voucher.
“Next year you will see more features on BBM app, including commerce and payment, so that everything that the customer needs can be done in one app,” he said.
The big plan for BBM early next year is to open its chatbot application programming interface (API) to enable businesses and developers to tap into its active user base.
“People are installing fewer apps on their phone and competition in the mobile app space is going to be tougher than before. What people are keen on keeping in a smartphone is the messaging app. That is where they want to be, and this is where we can offer a valuable service,” he said.
He further explained that BBM has one of the lowest uninstall rates according to a report released by SimilarWeb, and this will add to its value in inviting developers and brands to come to its platform.
“Many small businesses in Indonesia use BBM to keep in touch with their customers. Once we add payment capabilities, the sky is the limit. BBM will become an even more useful tool for offline merchants like restaurants and hospitals, allowing them to handle appointments, reservations, payments and a lot of other things,” said Adi.