In the likely hood that BlackBerry is taken private by exboard member Prem Wasta (added to his $FHH portfolio), the outlook for the company as we know it comes to question. What will ‘BlackBerry’ look like a this time next year? Will there be another BlackBerry ‘Jam’ Asia?
This year at BlackBerry Jam Asia in Hong Kong, BlackBerry took to the stage citing keen support from top developers in the Asia Pac region and their success stories with the BlackBerry 10 platform and ecosystem. Their presentations and demos offered a nice look into the capabilities of the OS and the developer side experience in creating rich integration with the platform. Utilizing carrier billing to make a seamless driver for the developer was a highlight presented by VP of Global Alliances Marty Mallick. Of note a app developer SayIt shared their downloads in the area of 100,000 (an impressive feat considering the normal 5$ price across 7 months; which translates out to ~half a million dollars gross rev). The app is currently available for 1.99$ on 60% discount in BlackBerry World.
*Noted above is information regarding SayIt downloads and quick math to determine profitability. The developer clarified that sales were closer to a volume of 50K. During the Keynote-BlackBerry collected the ‘100,000’ downloads stat by counting free updates for a total download volume vs purchase volumes.
As the keynote continued more of BlackBerry’s developer direction was laid out, and it gives some interesting insight into the path BlackBerry is headed from a software prospective. Showing off powerful Miracast (Wireless HDMI) capabilities back in May and rounding out this conference with a demo of a TAT mirroring BBM across to a Windows desktop (Mac version in the works) via USB. You see an interesting proposition that BlackBerry may be looking to employ.
As they begin to secede the consumer market as their primary focus for hardware, they will still be looking to make communications solutions for keen market incumbents on the cusp of real time communication in order to drive business operational efficiency and work flow in a secure manor. Again QNX is an embedded real time operating system. BlackBerry has mobilized that beast and built a tool (phone) that can interface with other embedded devices around it, even work station computers. Imagine a doctor on the go–being able to NFC tap a patients bed side and pull up their entire medical record. Or being able to have work groups and direct chats with co workers. Video chat, voice, screen sharing. And then open that potential up to iOS and Android users. The automotive industry, and enterprises. Open it up to Mac, and Windows, open it up the world, and yet keep it locked down through the network infrastructure.
BBM will be the driving force behind the software and services future at BlackBerry. As they plumb BBM across other to platforms (remember back in May we saw the first Car>Phone video call done through BlackBerry Messenger Video) we need to see the scope of their strategy. How else would and iPhone user make a call into a QNX (BB10) powered vehicle? BlackBerry moving across to build solutions on Mac, Windows and their competitors is a fight for presence in an ever populated consumer mindshare/ecosystem, but it’s one that BlackBerry can come in and drive unique value, for people around the world.
When we talk about what deems ‘BBM’ a success on other platforms… I consider anywhere upward of 250 mill users by mid-late 2015 to be within their grasp. They already have about 60 million active daily users. If each–lets say half of them, 30 mil, invited 3 friends to BBM that’s 90 million new users making ~150 million. I expect the demand for BBM to be huge. At some point or another almost everyone has heard of or used BBM. The influx of families in emerging markets being able to communicate seamlessly to family anywhere on the globe easily and more cost effectively will really perpetuate the game for mobile communications. I believe that reasonably, due partially in light of BBM Channels, if BBM takes off, by the time we hit 2016, BBM will be one of the top 5 social networks in the world with a massive userbase to rival Twitter and FaceBook.
Watsa’s job with BlackBerry is to drive BBM as a revenue generator and tact on value to differentiate and compel deeper user engagement. Let it snowball, fan the flame, and you will make everyone a Crackaholic once again. The presence that BBM creates for millions around the world is the essence of the addiction. And if you can reignite the hunger for that kind of experience than we will see BlackBerry full throttle next year at BlackBerry ‘Live, World, Jam‘ 2014.
The future for a private BlackBerry is very bright. Especially at the backs of Fairfax $40 billion equity position. And vested 500$ million dollar 10% share of $BBRY. It’s #MobileFirst with #BlackBerry10 and #BBM4ALL