Picture the scene. Friday, BlackBerry HQ. Conference room. The company has just announced it intends to lay off a third of its workforce, adding that it expects to announce financial losses of almost a billion dollars for the June to August quarter.
In a desperate bid to inject some positivity into the proceedings, CEO Thorsten Heins says with a smile, “But hey, at least we’re all set for the launch of BlackBerry Messenger for Android and iOS this weekend, eh.”
At this moment, an awkward silence envelops the room. Some of those present turn their gaze to the floor. Others brush specs of dust from the conference table.
Heins: “It’s not ready, is it.”
BlackBerry Messenger was supposed to arrive on Google Play at 7am ET on Saturday, and iTunes just after midnight on Sunday. But no, it didn’t. Not properly, anyway.
According to the troubled mobile maker, an “unreleased version” of the Android app appeared online some time on Saturday. However, this app “caused issues”, leading the Ontario-based company to pull the iTunes version, which had seemingly launched without a hitch, and halt the rollout across both platforms until the problems are sorted out.
‘Interest and enthusiasm’
Despite the obvious mess, BlackBerry couldn’t resist painting the (attempted) launch in a positive light.
“The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already – more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app – is incredible,” the company said in a somewhat confusing post on the official BlackBerry blog.
It went on, “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 rollout of BBM for Android and iPhone.”
It said anyone who’s already downloaded BBM for iOS can continue using the app, though the unreleased Android app will be disabled. It added that only when the issues have been solved will the app be properly launched, though it gave no indication as to when this might happen.
Beleaguered BlackBerry is apparently looking to sell itself off within the next couple of months, though the bundle of bad news delivered over the last couple of days will do little to help woo potential buyers.
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