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A First Look at ooVoo, BlackBerry's Default Video Messaging App

BlackBerry Gets Its Own FaceTime

By Published on . 1

Although Wall Street was unimpressed with the BlackBerry 10 product launch on Wednesday, the event did produce one winner: ooVoo, the popular Facetime competitor that will be the default video messaging app on the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the second quarter.

One of the many BlackBerry 10 features unveiled on Tuesday was the ability to video chat with other BlackBerry users via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). What BBM lacks--and what ooVoo affords--is a video chat platform that connects BlackBerry users with friends and colleagues on iOS devices, Android devices and Facebook.

For marketers, the most intriguing aspect of ooVoo is a video conferencing feature that allows up to 11 users to video chat with one another while watching an Internet video together. The mobile version accommodates four simultaneous streams - the image to the right is how the app will look on the BlackBerry 10.

"If the ultimate goal of a brand is to get into the conversation, then ooVoo takes that literally," ooVoo president Jay Samit said.

The company has deals in place with broadcast networks to help them with appointment viewing. If you're on the east coast and using ooVoo to video chat with your family around 11:30 p.m., Jimmy Kimmel may appear on your screen to tell you to watch his show that will start in five minutes.

Outside of the U.S., the app is used to power online poker site 888poker's "pokercam," a feature that allows players who are head-to-head in a poker tournament to see one another. Future advertising campaigns include a L'Oreal-sponsored virtual mirror, and the company is working on integrations with shopping and search websites.

Mr. Samit said ad revenue was in the "tens of millions" in 2012, and he projects fast growth in 2013 as ooVoo's user base expands, primarily in Android and now the Blackberry mobile ecosystems. ooVoo is is a popular app on the iPod Touch because it essentially turns it into a video party line.

According to ooVoo, the platform has more than 70 million users and adds between 100,000 and 120,000 new accounts per day. In the second quarter of 2013, the app will start coming pre-loaded on all BlackBerry 10 phones, something Samit believes will help the user base crest 100 million people.

It may also allow ooVoo to reach a market segment it has yet to infiltrate. The app over-indexes among young, African American, Hispanic and foreign smartphone users, and BlackBerry owners skew older. Just more than a third (35.2%) of BlackBerry users are younger than 35 compared with 49.4% of Apple users and 46.8% on Android, according to research firm comScore.

In addition to video chat, users can make voice calls and send instant messages for free via WiFi or 3G and 4G cellular service.

Mr. Samit said the popularity of these features are what the app so popular and a competitor to Facebook, which has made video and phone communication through its platform a point of emphasis in recent months.

"Young people don't understand why you would make a voice call," he added.

ooVoo has been around since 2006 in various iterations, but Mr. Samit, previously president of in-game ads company SocialVibe, believes the free, ad-supported service will scale even faster on a global basis with cheaper Android-based smartphones become available.

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