A day after being released, BBM became the most popular messaging app in the world. By 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, it was ranked as the No. 1 free iPhone app in 66 countries. On Monday, BBM was downloaded more than 5 million times within its first 8 hours of availability. Path was reported to be seeking $100 million in financing on a $1 billion valuation after hitting 10 million registered users back in April. Well guess what? BlackBerry just announced that BBM for iPhone and Android has now been downloaded more than 10 million times since it was released about 24 hours ago.
Of course, Path did not get new funding at a $1 billion valuation and the app dropped out of the iOS top-500 chart this past summer. But Path never made it higher than No. 5 on the U.S. iPhone app charts while BBM hit No. 1 during its first day of availability. Path always had a narrow geographic appeal while BBM has already hit No. 1 in a variety of countries in continents ranging from South America to Africa and Asia.
It is worth noting that in countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Indonesia, BlackBerry still owns more than 30% of the smartphone markets. In these markets, having the BBM app on your new Huawei Android phone has real utility — it suddenly unlocks a large network of contacts. After the splashy start BBM is having, it is quite possible that BBM is on track to hit between 20 million and 40 million iOS/Android downloads by the end of the year if the early success triggers curious sampling by consumers bored with their current messaging apps.
If only BlackBerry had launched BBM on Android and iOS two years ago. It would have allowed BlackBerry to build a LINE-like user base of 100 million to 200 million people, to promote stickers and games aggressively in emerging markets, and to reach a $50 million to $100 million quarterly revenue base from high-margin in-app feature sales and advertising alone.
It is probably too late in the day to hit these marks now — or is it? Will BBM still be able to successfully push into the crowded messaging app market where Line, Kakaotalk, Nimbuzz, Tango, Kik and others are jostling for space?
In any case, this is a glorious day for the picturesque hamlet of Waterloo and its population of 95,000. It now has two messaging apps on the iPhone’s top-30 app chart in the U.S. with BBM and Kik. It is a feat no other city with fewer than 100,000 Canadians has ever managed.