There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the BBM Channels is all about. Yesterday they had a BBM Mobile session which touched softly on the subject but today they held another session which defined the latest feature which is newly added as a beta version for BBM. There was quite a bit of information regarding BBM and the new announcements as explained by Andrew Bocking, the Executive VP of Software Management & Ecosystem for BlackBerry. Let’s take a closer look.
With BBM you can manage the channel you create per the app or the web portal. The way that it came about was because a BBM group can only have 30 people in the group. BlackBerry was noticing a large number of groups and customers wanted to add more to their groups. After careful watching and consideration, the idea for BBM Channels was conceived.
They also touched on iOs and Android versions of BBM. The version for those platforms will be the core chat and group functionality. This will be pictures as well. Voice and Video Chat will not be included until later.
The beta is in extended beta through the summer to see how people respond and utilize the feature. There are many ways to use this feature in BBM. At first they were talking more about the business aspect but today it was more apparent that the feature will be great for information and business. There are 60 million BBM users, and because of that BlackBerry with that large base can use the fundamentals of BBM, and brands and business will find it’s inherent value. The beta is for evaluating, trialing, and discovering opportunities.
Channels can create connections and facilitate more by managing a larger number of users than a group. It’s great for mobile marketing and advertising. After all, the world is primarily mobile and people spend more time on smartphones, and needing to reach people requires a mobile-centric app.
One of the questions BlackBerry addressed was whether or not they were worried about losing customers with BBM becoming available on other platforms. They aren’t worrying about that. They feel the timing is focused and that BlackBerry has been reinvented and they are positive that there’s great interest in BBM.
Currently Channels is limited to 400 characters and photos. Video is next. Spam will not be an issue as you have to opt in. There a few questions as to why Windows was not mentioned. It’s simply because customers have neither requested or shown interest for a Windows version. There are also no plans for the web-based client version.