BlackBerry President of Global Enterprise Services, John Sims, has BBM under his wing after an exec shake up back in February moved the app over to his Enterprise Services side. This has caused a few people to wonder if that’s the best place for BBM, in an Enterprise first environment. We know BBM will play a very large part in BlackBerry’s enterprise messaging dominance attempt, but what about the consumer side? What does BBM gain from working directly under John Sims? We asked him that very question at a round-table discussion yesterday, and were quite surprised with what Sims has planned.
John Sims’ background is with SAP and Sybase. With these companies, Sims worked extensively on messaging. Sybase 365’s connection to SMS is a perfect example of the kind of experience Sims brings to BlackBerry. The man knows messaging in and out, which makes working under him the perfect place for BBM. That was the first part of his answer, and to be honest, after hearing that we were perfectly fine with it.
Sims isn’t just content with relying on his knowledge though. He knows BBM faces some challenges and is working closely with the team at BlackBerry to address them.
One of these challenges is finding a way to simplify the app overall. According to Sims, BBM’s UI is too complicated still for the average new user. This is specially true in the inviting and looking for friends aspects. Yes, they’ve already introduced a way to look for, and find friends on BBM, but BlackBerry wants it to be better. That’s a key focus going forward for the BBM team, so we shouldn’t be surprised if the next release or two don’t have as many ‘new features,’ but are instead focused on achieving this simplicity goal.
In my opinion, this should be achieved is by overhauling the UI on Android and iPhone, and making these apps look more native. Apps like WhatsApp for example, cater to each specific OS and make their UI look different based on which phone it’s working on. BBM has to make the Android app look like an Android app, and the iPhone app look like an iPhone app. I get the idea of bringing the BB10 look over to these multi-platform offerings, but it has apparently lead to more confusion, and a harder grasp on how to use the app because it’s so much more different than every other app a regular person uses on their device. Don’t be surprised if this is what ends up happening.
BBM downloads will also not be left to the average user whose interest is piqued accidentally. BlackBerry wants BBM to go viral, and it believes it can achieve that with a solid marketing campaign after it has corrected and perfected its app.
We asked Sims what they’re doing to have people that downloaded BBM on iPhone and Android back in October, and left the app, come back and take another look at it. He mentioned it’ll be a “combination of marketing strategies.”
BlackBerry will “reach out to those that have already downloaded the app – the communities whose engagement is mainly through BBM already” and have them be the voice for a viral campaign. A brand new UI/look always helps those that used it once, and maybe didn’t like it, give it another try. A just-to-see vibe. Security will be a huge focus for this campaign as well, no doubt. With the amount of spying from pretty much everyone and anyone going on, BBM can seriously make a play on secure messaging even at the lowest regular-consumer-level. This aspect needs to keep being leveraged hard, and shown how BBM is so much better than everyone else in it.
This can only be successful if the app “is flawless,” Sims reminded us. BlackBerry is very aware of the bugs and annoyances BBM still contains for users on different platforms, and they’re not blind to the fact these need to get corrected and perfected if they want people to give BBM a second or third shot.
Like with BlackBerry’s devices’ strategy, we couldn’t help but be impressed with how quickly this new management team has come in and gotten a solid grasp on the problems facing the company, and devised a plan to fix or correct whatever needed to be in order to go forward. BBM is not exception even it is a fantastic app, and Sims and his team are the perfect people to look over it.