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BlackBerry Messenger Has Trouble Expanding Beyond Chat Functions in Indonesia

Uptake of its recently launched ecommerce effort has been slow

March 6, 2017 | Mobile

Indonesia is perhaps the only market left in the world where the words BlackBerry Messenger—or BBM, as it is widely known—still mean something. The messaging app retains a strong user base in the country, but it is slowly being supplanted by other, newer services.

A survey from JakPat conducted in early 2017 found that BBM’s penetration rate now trails Facebook-owned WhatsApp among mobile internet users in Indonesia. BBM was used by 67% of respondents, while 81% said they used WhatsApp.

Aware of the impending threat of messaging services like WhatsApp, Line and Facebook Messenger, which have already taken over most of the world, BBM’s Indonesian operation has attempted to move beyond just offering its users a chat platform.

Nonmessaging BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Activities Conducted by BBM Users in Indonesia, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

In December, the company announced it had partnered with local online marketplace to provide users with a new ecommerce service called BBM Shopping. The service lets BBM users browse Bukalapak’s products and even pay for goods without ever leaving the app.

However, additional research from JakPat shows that BBM Shopping has yet to be widely adopted by users. The January 2017 survey of BBM users found that just 4.2% were using the feature. The most popular nonmessaging activities among BBM users were social media-related, such as looking at the status of their friends (80.5%) and checking out a friend’s new profile picture (64.0%).

Though its ecommerce feature has yet to catch on, BBM users in Indonesia are still using the app quite frequently overall, JakPat found. More than a third (35.9%) of users surveyed checked the service more than 10 times a day, while another 11% fired up the app between six and 10 times per day.

While BBM certainly faces challenges from a host of other messaging platforms, its core users remain dedicated to using it often.

Rahul Chadha

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