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BBM for Android, iPhone won't be available this week, says BBM head

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First published: September 24, 2013, 8:43 AM IST | Updated: September 24, 2013
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BBM for Android, iPhone won't be available this week, says BBM head
Issues caused by a leaked BBM for Android app resulted in the indefinite postponement of the BBM for Android and iPhone apps.

New Delhi: After BlackBerry's much-awaited BBM for Android and BBM for iPhone didn't go as planned last weekend and BlackBerry had to pause the launch of the launch of its BlackBerry Messenger service for both platforms, a re-release was expected this week. But now, Andrew Bocking, head of BBM at BlackBerry, says that he does not "anticipate launching this week" and that the re-launch for Android and iOS will "take time."

Bocking, in a post on the official BlackBerry blog, gave further details about what went wrong over the weekend that kept millions of users eager to use BBM on their non-BlackBerry phones waiting. As initially informed the a leaked unreleased version of the BBM for Android app triggered the chain of events.

"This older version resulted in volumes of data traffic orders of magnitude higher than normal for each active user and impacted the system in abnormal ways. The version we were planning to release on Saturday addressed these issues, however we could not block users of the unreleased version if we went ahead with the launch," Bocking said.

Explaining why they took the decision to pause the BBM for Android and BBM for iPhone launch, the BBM head said, "We attempted to address the problems caused by the unreleased version throughout the day on Saturday, but as active users of the unreleased app neared a million - and accelerated - it became clear that the only way to address the issue was to pause the rollout for both Android and iPhone."

Bocking says they are now focussing on on adjusting the system to completely block the unreleased version of the BBM for Android app. " While this may sound like a simple task - it's not."

Meanwhile BlackBerry said on Monday that it has agreed in principle to be acquired by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion. Fairfax, led by Canadian investor Prem Watsa, owns 10 per cent of BlackBerry. It has offered to pay $9 a share in cash for the Canadian company, which last week said it expected to report a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion.

The leaked Android app that BlackBerry says is responsible for the BBM for Android and BBM for iPhone launch woes was also responsible for adding more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app.

But the joy for the newly added users is short-lived as BlackBerry said that the unreleased Android app would be disabled. Also many of the million plus users who installed the unreleased BBM Android app are not necessarily new BBM users. BlackBerry has witnessed a mass exodus of its users to other more popular platforms such as Android and iOS and it is very likely quite a few of the users who installed the leaked app were BBM users in the past.

While the BBM for iPhone rollout began on schedule on Sunday from New Zealand and was also available to Indian users, the Android app's availability kept on getting delayed. BBM for Android was scheduled to arrive on the Google Play Store at 4:30 PM IST (7 AM EDT) on Saturday. It was only 12 hours later that BlackBerry officially announced that it had paused the rollout for both the Android and iPhone versions until further notice.

The BBM launch debacle is the latest in the long list of BlackBerry missteps.

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