BlackBerry Messenger, more widely known as BBM, is BlackBerry's proprietary instant messaging service. It is one of the most popular features of BlackBerry smartphones, as it powers device-to-device messaging without chewing up customers' text messaging allotment. The push service includes read receipts and, with the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, offers screen sharing and voice/video chats, too.
In May, BlackBerry announced plans to offer BBM to devices other than its own for the first time. It said that versions for the Android and iOS platforms would be available before the end of summer. Last week, the company said BBM was finally ready. The original plan was for the Android version of BBM to reach the Google Play Store on Sept. 21, and the iOS version to follow on Sept. 22. Things didn't go according to plan.
[ Will new products help BlackBerry turn things around? Read BlackBerry Debuts Z30 Phablet. ]
An unofficial version of BBM for Android leaked in the days before Sept. 21. This unofficial version, according to BlackBerry, caused problems with the application's rollout. BlackBerry issued a statement late Saturday saying that the release of the app had been paused while it attempts to circumnavigate the problem. BlackBerry is going to deactivate the leaked version of BBM and eventually offer a new one to Android devices. (The iOS version that was made available still works, but BlackBerry pulled it anyway.)
Once BlackBerry fixes the problem it will begin a staggered country rollout of BBM for Android, as well as continue the rollout of BBM for iPhone. The company suggests that people interested in BBM for their device should check the dedicated BBM website, as well as follow @BBM on Twitter.
If there's a silver lining to this dark cloud over BlackBerry's head, it is that there's a lot of interest in BBM from Android and iOS device owners. BlackBerry said that the Android app saw more than 1.1 million downloads in the first eight hours it was available.
BlackBerry recently announced that it will take a $1 billion write-down on unsold inventory of the Z10 smartphone. The charges mean it will lose between $950 and $995 million for its second fiscal quarter, during which it sold only 3.7 million devices. BlackBerry said most of its device sales were older BlackBerry 7 models, and not its BlackBerry 10 phones.
The company is exploring strategic alternatives, which include a sale of all or part of the company. The few firms that have showed interest in buying BlackBerry are eyeing pieces of the company, not the entire thing. BlackBerry hopes to commence a sales process of sorts before November.