BlackBerry Messenger for Android, iPhone pushed back at least a week

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) said its cross-platform Messenger chat applications for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS are on hold for at least a week after an unreleased version of the Android app leaked online.

BlackBerry planned to roll out the free BBM apps this past weekend, but in the hours prior to the official BBM for Android launch, a leaked version generated close to 1.1 million downloads, wreaking havoc with the manufacturer's official release schedule.

"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," BlackBerry Messenger Executive Vice President Andrew Bocking explained. "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. 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 said his team is now focused on tweaking the BBM platform to completely block the leaked version when the official BBM for Android app goes live. "We are also making sure that the system is reinforced to handle this kind of scenario in the future," he added. "While this may sound like a simple task--it's not. This will take some time and I do not anticipate launching this week."

BlackBerry first confirmed plans to port Messenger to iOS and Android in May. The cross-platform BBM enables users to interact across multiple mobile operating systems and includes core features like one-on-one and multi-person text chats, voice and video chats, voice note sharing and BlackBerry Groups, which enables as many as 30 BBM users to share calendars, photos, files and additional content. Future versions of the iOS and Android apps also will support the forthcoming BBM Channels, a social engagement platform within Messenger allowing customers to connect with businesses, brands, celebrities and groups, as well as BBM Video calling and BBM Voice calling. More than 60 million BlackBerry device owners use the Messenger service, sending and receiving more than 10 billion messages each day.

BlackBerry announced Monday that it has agreed to go private in a $4.7 billion deal led by its biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings. Per the letter of intent the company signed, BlackBerry shareholders would receive $9 in cash for each share they control--a 3.1 percent premium over the manufacturer's closing price last week, according to Bloomberg.

"We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees," said Fairfax chairman and CEO Prem Watsa, who holds a 9.9 percent stake in BlackBerry. "We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world."

For more:
- read this Inside BlackBerry blog post

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