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Consumer interest in Kik and Viber explodes as BBM fades

Published Sep 9th, 2013 6:15PM EDT
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It’s no surprise that the messaging app behemoth WhatsApp generates 95 times as much Google search volume as BlackBerry Messenger. But what’s pretty fascinating is that second-shelf apps like Kik and Viber also now generate 10 times more search interest than BBM. Whereas Kakao reigns as the supreme messaging app in Korea, LINE in Japan and WeChat in China, Kik and Viber are kind of puttering along, trying to steal slivers of market share in many regions. Yet despite the fact that these two B-listers are battling for the No.5 messaging app position at best, they have started generating massive search volume growth over the past year.

What must be bittersweet for BlackBerry is the fact that Kik and Viber started to really pull ahead of BBM at a relatively late date — in the autumn of 2011. If BlackBerry only had taken its messaging service cross-platform and launched on Android and the iPhone two years ago, it would have had a fighting chance of keeping up with the titanic global struggle for messaging app supremacy. WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE essentially all have a shot at establishing active user bases of about half a billion consumers over the next couple of years. This could turn one or all of them into fabulously powerful and lucrative platforms for mobile game and content distribution across all continents.

What must make BlackBerry executives heartsick right about now is the fact that despite the relatively strong media coverage on the imminent launch of iOS and Android versions of BBM, the search volume for “BlackBerry Messenger” is not trending up. It peaked in August 2010 and has been trending down or flat ever since.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.