Hours after opening up its instant messaging platform to rival Android phone brands, BlackBerry has paused

Hours after opening up its instant messaging platform to rival Android phone brands, BlackBerry has paused the global roll out of BBM. The Canadian phone maker said that the rollout has been paused because an unreleased version of the BBM for Android app was leaked online.

“Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day,” BlackBerry said in a blog.

The company said that it had seen more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app.

“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. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone,” the Canadian phone maker said.

Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visit www.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.

Phased launch

BlackBerry will now begin a staggered country roll-out of BBM instead of simultaneous global launch as was announced earlier. “These issues have not impacted BBM service for BlackBerry,” the company said.

The roll back has come at a time when BlackBerry is trying to stay relevant in a highly competitive market dominated by the likes of Samsung and Apple. While the Blackberry 10 phones have received luke warm response from consumers, the decision to open up BBM to platforms other than BlackBerry had created some excitement.

The move had pit BlackBerry against players such as WhatsApp, WeChat and Nimbuzz globally.

“By opening up BBM to other platforms, we are doing two things. One, we want to expand the engagement levels of existing 60 million BBM users with other phone brands and second, we are hoping to bring back some of those users who were once on BlackBerry but shifted to other platforms because BBM was restricted only to BlackBerry phones,” said Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director, BlackBerry India had earlier told Business Line.

Some of the Indian phone brands, including Micromax, had already announced plans to pre-load their devices with BBM application and had also started advertising.

“With more than a billion Android, iOS, and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers,” Lalvani had said.

But the pause in rollout could dampen the game for Blackberry.

(This article was published on September 22, 2013)
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