blackberry phone

Blackberry makes the decision to stop making phones. Pic: Flickr/H.B. Kang

Blackberry looks to revive BBM through deal with Indonesia’s Emtek

IN a bid to inject life into its declining sales, Canadian telecommunications company Blackberry has struck a deal with one of Indonesia’s biggest media companies, PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk., to reinvent its messaging service, BBM.

Blackberry wants to turn BBM into a social media platform modeled after China’s WeChat, incorporating all-in-one services, such as music and video streaming, sports and celebrity updates, shopping, money transfers, and more, in addition to messaging.

A report by data analytics company SimilarWeb showed that BBM, after enjoying years of top-dog success with 60 million users globally at its peak in 2011, now dominates the messaging market in just one country – Indonesia.

As of April 2016, the report found that BBM is installed on 87.5 percent of all Android devices in the country, compared to just 0.42 percent in the U.S. The messaging app is still hugely popular there even though many no longer use Blackberry devices.

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Leveraging on this fact, the company will be working with Emtek to develop the new applications and services for BBM, with Emtek even establishing an office in Toronto to be closer to Blackberry’s headquarters.

According to Bloomberg, the inspiration for the new developments is definitely WeChat, as Blackberry’s head of corporate development, James Mackey, confirmed in a phone interview.

The deal, which also sees Blackberry getting a fee from Emtek for each user it shows its content to via BBM, will initially focus on Indonesia but has the potential to go global.

John Chen, CEO of Blackberry, said the company chose Emtek because of it’s “impressive background and pedigree in entertainment”.

Alvin Sariaatmadja, CEO of Emtek, said: “Our partnership with Blackberry will allow BBM users to access exclusive content from some of Emtek’s most sought-after entertainment, technology and digital products and services. We seek significant opportunity to grow the consumer BBM business globally and are excited to invest in research and development to further advance BBM.”