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BlackBerry Messenger, Still a Player in Indonesia, Expands Its Services

Chat app takes another step towards WeChat’s offerings

December 14, 2016 | Mobile

Last week, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and homegrown Indonesian online marketplace Bukalapak announced they had partnered to offer a new service aimed at easing digital purchases on the app. The service, called BBM Shopping, allows users to browse products offered by Bukalapak and make payments to complete transactions without ever leaving the app.

Top 15 Android Smartphone Apps in Indonesia, Ranked by Reach, Jan 2016 (% reach)

Once the go-to messaging app in Western markets, BBM has been eclipsed by other messaging platforms. But in Indonesia it has a large user base among both iPhone and Android users. According to a May 2016 survey from JakPat, BBM was the primary choice of mobile chat app for about one-third of those who used such apps. In addition, GfK data from January 2016 showed that BBM had the highest reach of all Android smartphone apps in the country, at 90%.

On the other side of this partnership stands Bukalapak, one of the top ecommerce services in the market. A DI Marketing survey in August 2016 found 85% of digital buyers in Indonesia were aware of Bukalapak, and 9% said it was the site they used most frequently. Its major competitors are Lazada and Tokopedia.

BlackBerry’s head of corporate development, James Mackey, has cited WeChat as the model for its expanded messaging platform. BBM doesn’t have WeChat’s reach, but it is among the top apps in Indonesia, a country that will have 65.2 million smartphone users this year, by eMarketer estimates.

BBM’s alliance with Bukalapak makes sense; mcommerce is already a relatively popular activity among Indonesians. Some 35% of smartphone users in the country use a shopping app more than once per week, according to a May 2016 survey from GfK.

The messaging service currently has a solid user base that is comfortable utilizing the app as more than a modest communication tool. BBM offers the ability for people to pay bills and obtain coupons in-app. According to a separate JakPat study from January 2016, more than half of users also rely on BBM to view photos, follow online shops, and follow official accounts of brands.

BBM faces competition from the messaging app Line, which is a close second in popularity among messaging app users in Indonesia. Line similarly offers games and payments in Indonesia, one of its biggest markets outside of Japan.

—Dustin Sodano

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