BlackBerry may launch Skype-like VoIP service: official

BlackBerry says it is not averse to starting Skype-like VoiP service but is evaluating other options as well.

In a recent media briefing David Proulx, BlackBerry’s Senior Director of BBM Business Development, said BBM voice will continue to remain free although the company did not rule out the possibility of introducing Skype-like features.

“The Skype model is one possibility. There are also other approaches that we can take in terms of monetisation,” said Proulx.

“We are still investing in the organic elements that drive users. Any monetisation is driven by large user base. Our idea is to take BBM to as many end-points as possible,” he added.

BlackBerry has already announced that BBM for Windows, the only major platform where it is absent, will be rolled out within the next few months.

According to him, the idea is for a BBM user to reach as many friends through BBM as possible.

“Apart from Android and iOS, the company plans to introduce a Windows mobile version within the next three months. We introduced support for the Gingerbread. We also introduced relationship with Nokia. We are already on Nokia X.

“In five months since launching BBM, we have seen significant increase in terms of usage. We have about 85 million active users of the total number 113 million registered users,” said Proulx.

In terms of monetisation of the messenger service he said that there will not be a monetisation drive at the expense of the users. “Everything that we are doing will focus on adding value to customers.

BlackBerry, he said, will continue to work on a multi-pronged strategy towards achieving this.

“We are not taking one particular approach. Instead we are taking a portfolio approach in terms of commercialisation. This provides us with an avenue to either accelerate or decelerate according to our requirement,” he said.

Within the BBM 2.1 release the company introduced the BBM Shop – virtual goods platform where it offers free as well as paid sticker packs. While some of them are owned by BlackBerry others are licensed content. “Going forward, we will be introducing new goods,” he said.

The company is also creating opportunities for brands to create stickers with their brand identity. “For a brand or a business, a sticker is the most intimate form of engagement thy can have with a user,” said Proulx.

The second approach is through BBM Channels. “We have seen great uptake in the service. Mercedes for example even offers vouchers to subscribers using through their BBM Channel,” he added. The channel currently has about 118,000 followers.

According to him, the potential for mobile marketing has improved significantly and offers a very low investment and simple alternate to traditional marketing techniques.