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Don't wait up for BBM on iPhone, Android – BlackBerry

Botched launch means another delay (till at least next week)

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Having botched the widespread release of its crown jewels, BBM, BlackBerry has now warned of a further delay to the Android and iOS versions of the messaging app.

The messaging app was exclusively available on RIM/BlackBerry devices, but back in May the company promised to make BBM cross-platform and release versions for Android and iPhone "in the summer".

BlackBerry fans familiar with the company's ability to pull disaster from the jaws of success could have scripted what happened next. Summer came and went. An unauthorised Android version leaked out and was downloaded over a million times.

BlackBerry said the Android beta had a serious data-gobbling bug, and halted the release for both iOS and Android. It's currently trying to disable the Android BBM clients that have already escaped into the wild. Since the cross-platform BBM announcement in May, usage of WhatsApp, which is a poor imitation of BBM, but which doesn't require a BlackBerry device, has grown from 200 million to 300 million users.

"We will keep customers updated on the new plan for rolling out BBM for Android and iPhone via BBM.com and @BBM on Twitter. However, we do not anticipate launching this week," a spokesman told us.

The official explanation for the delay can be found here.

"The version we were planning to release on Saturday addressed these [traffic] issues, however we could not block users of the unreleased version if we went ahead with the launch," BlackBerry's BBM chief explained.

Nevertheless, the interest in BBM from former BlackBerry owners and those curious to see what the fuss is about is tangible. Over a dozen fake BBM apps have appeared in the Play store and currently BlackBerry's corporate BES10 client – which requires a BlackBerry Enterprise Server – is 16th in the "most popular" downloads. It was in the Top Ten at one point.

BBM still offers package of features that others can't match: secure delivery, read receipts, ad hoc group creation, voice calls and even screen sharing.

The company did show off a desktop version of BBM at an Asian developer event this week, but made no product commitment.

"BlackBerry must now compete on hardware and execute flawlessly," we The Register warned back in May.

The news comes as the Canadian firm's main shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, offers $9 a share for control of the company. "Canada's Warren Buffett", Fairfax chief exec Prem Watsa, is leading the $4.7bn bid.®

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