Research in Motion (RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins tickled curiosity when he hinted “think about transacting money” while discussing the future capabilities of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) during a visit to Jakarta on Thursday.
Heins said RIM was continuously innovating new services for the messenger service to make it “a very strong platform not just for communication, but also to make it a strong platform for [e-commerce]”.
“Think about transacting money. This is one element in which you could have a huge BBM population in Indonesia transferring money from one partner to another,” he said. Heins added that the heavy usage of BBM by BlackBerry smartphone owners in Indonesia made the country “so important” as an “innovation ground for BBM”.
“So it is very important for us to be here and innovating on the BlackBerry Messenger in Indonesia,” he told The Jakarta Post during a limited press meet.
According to Heins, the next version of the messenger which would appear in the all new BlackBerry 10 platform would sport “enhanced communication activities” beyond “just texting”.
Indonesian BBM users often use the service to buy and sell goods. Sellers often create BBM groups through which they sell goods, including fashion items. Yet, buyers still have to use conventional means, such as cash transfers through banks, as payment methods.
“We certainly want to grow stronger in Indonesia and we want to contribute to the economic wealth of Indonesia. The main purpose of doing this is to keep growing our BBM communities with new services and keep them on BBM by innovating and offering new opportunities for them,” he said.
However, he declined to give further details on how exactly the messenger would support e-commerce activities. “I want to keep a few surprises for the Indonesian consumer as well,” Heins said.
He added that the messenger service was RIM’s “strong foothold” that would facilitate the company to grow beyond their current market share in the country.
“Growing from a 56 percent market share is really quite a challenge, but make no mistake, [we will be] first defending our market share and building new services,” he stated.
RIM is facing tough competition from device manufacturers, including Samsung with their Android-based Galaxy smartphones.
A study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) points out that although BlackBerry still holds the crown in the smartphone market, Android wins the operating system popularity contest with 52 percent market share.
Heins said Indonesia was among the first countries to see the BlackBerry 10, as the country was one of RIM’s biggest markets contributing 8 percent to the company’s global revenue.
RIM devices running on BlackBerry 10 will enter the Indonesian market in the first quarter of 2013, he said. “The first countries to receive the BlackBerry 10 are our most important and biggest markets, and we aim to strongly support those markets,” he said.
He added that the BlackBerry 10 platform would run on a wide range of devices, from full touch to touch-and-type hybrids. The platform would also be available on devices with various price points, he said.
“You’ll probably see within an eight-week time space, a full touch device and a QWERTY-touch device,” he said of the first few models which would hit the shelves.
He added that he had met the major telecommunication operators —Telkomsel, Indosat and XL — as well as retailers to “show them what it [BlackBerry 10] is all about, and get them excited about BlackBerry 10”.
The response, he said, had been good because operators preferred having a wide choice of platforms, apart from Android and Apple’s iOS.
“We’re very confident about launching in quarter one and getting good traction with BlackBerry 10,” he said.