BlackBerry suspends Messenger for Android, iOS rollout after leak

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) halted the launch of its cross-platform Messenger chat applications for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS after an unreleased version of the Android app leaked online.

BlackBerry planned to roll out the free BBM for Android to devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and higher beginning at 7:00 am EDT on Sept. 21. BBM for iPhone, which supports Apple smartphones running iOS 6 and the new iOS 7, was slated to follow on Sept. 22, launching in each local App Store market at 12:01 am local time. But sometime prior to the official BBM for Android launch, a leaked version surfaced online, generating close to 1.1 million downloads in eight hours of availability and wreaking havoc with BlackBerry's official release schedule.

"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," said BlackBerry Business Social Media Manager Luke Reimer. "We are pausing the global rollout of BBM for Android and iPhone. 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. As soon as we are able, we will begin a staggered country rollout of BBM for Android and continue the rollout of BBM for iPhone. Please follow @BBM on Twitter for the latest updates."

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 is opening Messenger to users on competing operating systems in an effort to rekindle consumer interest in its brand and combat a new generation of over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp, Kik Messenger and Viber. The BBM delay couldn't have come at a worse time for the smartphone maker: On Friday, BlackBerry announced a charge of nearly $1 billion for unsold smartphones and said it will lay off 40 percent of employees.

For more:
- read this Official BlackBerry Blog post
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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Rumor Mill: BlackBerry weighs Messenger spinoff
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BlackBerry in talks to preload Messenger on rival mobile devices
BlackBerry Messenger apps coming to iOS, Android this summer

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