What If RIM Gave Everyone BBM Data Plans Free Through Carriers?

10 Comments

Recently, Vodaphone India launched a BBM-only data plan that allows customers to join in on the fun of BBM while not having to pay for large buckets of data. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of BlackBerry users that would sign up for a BBM-only data plan if they had access to it, so maybe RIM should pay for it out of the money they get from carriers for each BlackBerry sold.

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RIM gets something like $2-$3 per BlackBerry subscriber. If the company took just $0.25 of that, RIM could probably strike a deal with the carriers to subsidize the data costs of BBM (which are incredibly minimal). This would have an awesome effect for both consumers and developers.

RIM has been touting BBM as the main competitive advantage for BlackBerry for some time and with the customer retention aspects of BBM, RIM would benefit significantly from being able to tell all BlackBerry users “BBM is now free for everyone, regardless of carrier plan”.

Thoughts?

  • Keetchigan

    I would be able to sell more blackberrys for sure. Not only that, but if rim removed some of the restrictions and forcibly allowed all bb devices to use bbm over wifi (which can be blocked by carriers believe it or not) they would be able to compete in some remote, wifi internet only markets.

  • Keetchigan

    I would be able to sell more blackberrys for sure. Not only that, but if rim removed some of the restrictions and forcibly allowed all bb devices to use bbm over wifi (which can be blocked by carriers believe it or not) they would be able to compete in some remote, wifi internet only markets.

  • wors

    Makes sense to me. Esp. with app world now working with WIFI only. 

    However, as a dev, we still need users to have a social or BIS plan in many cases. If BBM was free, and other data for a fee, we’d need to adjust our apps I think

  • http://www.s-consult.com Wayne Schulz

    BBM is an SMS alternative. So you’re thinking carriers would be persuaded to give up $20 to $30 per month for unlimited SMS (which is what most charge a customer) in exchange for 25 cents? 

    Yeah sounds great…

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    I’d like to see that too. I’m not sure how much RIM can influence the use of WiFi data without a data plan but hopefully it’s being negotiated.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    I’m not sure if it’s an SMS alternative. I have BBM but I use SMS every day for all my contacts that don’t have a BlackBerry. I probably SMS more than BBM. I don’t see people ever giving up SMS. Just having more fun with their BlackBerry.

  • Anonymous

    Are you proposing that all current subscriber based of 75M eventually get free BBM?  Even if only “new” customers are eligible for this, existing customers will eventually churn and sign up as new.  Based on 2 year service contract, it will take no more than that for the total sub base to get free BBM.  BTW, it’s not just the lost revenue from free BBM.  The margin on BBM, like on SMS, is outrageously high.  Just to make up the lost margin, RIM will have to sell boatload of incremental handsets.  My guess is that free BBM alone will not generate enough incremental sales to make this a margin neutral, let alone a margin positive, endeavor.
    Your proposal makes great sense from a consumer perspective but financially ruinous from RIM’s perspective.  Rather than free BBM, I would go with introducing a bare bone Blackberry that does nothing but voice and BBM (maybe 2-3MP camera) and give it away for free (to both carriers and consumers) when the consumer signs up for a fully loaded BBM service and no contract needed.  We all know that a recurring revenue base with high margin is always better than one-time revenue with meh margin. 

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    I like what you’re saying, specifically about the bare-bones BlackBerry. It would be a great way to capture the Indian and Chinese markets and sow some seeds for upgrades. RIM would still get the $2-$3 per subscriber.

  • sciomako

    Hi,

    May I ask where you got the $2-3 figure? I’m wondering if the carrier takes a cut on it.

  • Iwamoto 3rd

    RIM would definately profit from free or cheap BBM for anyone who buys a blackberry, its still the best instant message service out there you can’t deny it. But of course the money grubbin billionaires will not have that how else can they bilk their millions of parents who pay for their kids cell service. Shame on you RIM board and lobbiest for Bell, Rogers,Telus and all the other money grubbin billionaires. Someday its all gonna even out as us middle class people rise up and take over the world. BEWARE OF. US WE ARE COMING FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!