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September 23, 2013
For BlackBerry (BBRY), when it rains, it pours. The teetering mobile device maker, poised to bask in a successful rollout of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service for Google’s (GOOG) Android platform, unfortunately stumbled again on Saturday, forced to pull the app when an “unreleased version” was posted online before it could hit Google Play.
While the wayward app drew 1.1 million downloads in 8 hours–likely prompting a minor huzzah among BlackBerry’s top brass—the leak, nonetheless, “caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day,” said Luke Reimer, BlackBerry business social media manager, in a blog post.
As a result, BlackBerry abruptly stopped not only the Android rollout but also the Apple (AAPL) iOS version of BBM slated to begin downloads globally on Sunday. The company said it will disable the unreleased version of the Android app and customers who already downloaded it are urged to register for updates to receive the official version when it becomes available. As for the BBM iOS download, BlackBerry said those users who’ve already got it can use it.
The timing for BlackBerry to bungle the BBM Android and iOS rollouts couldn’t have been worse, coming on the heels of the vendor’s Friday disclosure it expects to incur a $995 million loss for Q2, post a greater than 50 percent revenue shortfall, and lay off some 4,500 employees.
How is BlackBerry going to fill-in this latest pothole? Its plan is to stage a “staggered country roll-out” of BBM for Android at some point and resume the iOS launch, Reimer said. The company didn’t give a timeline for when it will restart the kick off, confining its comments to, “Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM.”
BlackBerry first announced its intents to bring BBM to Android and iOS last May. Chief executive Thorsten Heins said the time was right “to bring BBM to a greater audience—no matter what mobile device they carry.”
BlackBerry still has a chance to entreat the hordes of its former users who moved to Android and the iPhone with a top-notch instant messaging (IM) service, perhaps in the process winning back some handset buyers. But tripping out of the gate was not a good idea.
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