BlackBerry was forced to suspend the rollout of its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to iPhone and Android platforms after experiencing glitches.
This was caused by an unreleased version of the BBM for Android which was posted online, according to the company's blog. If there were any good news, it was that there more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours, without even releasing the official Android app.
Still it is a further blow to BlackBerry's revival hopes following its announcement last week it would be laying off 40 percent of its global workforce--around 4,500 positions, and reporting losses of nearly US$1 billion in the three months to August.
Naturally, the question arises is how can an unreleased app be available and why didn't BlackBerry take more precautions in launching BBM this past weekend, as there has been so much hype around it? Perhaps everyone at BlackBerry is still reeling in over the news released last week.
Still, that's not a valid reason for such an important release for non-BlackBerry users to fail. While the unreleased Android app will be disabled, users who have already downloaded the BBM app for the iPhone will still be able to use it.
BlackBerry says its teams are working non-stop to fix the technical issues, but in light of last week's announcements, perhaps the damage has already been done. Even if the launch went off without any glitches, as planned, users are going to be wary about using BBM for the simple reason of not knowing how long the service will be available for. Again, this goes back to BlackBerry’s survival in the smartphone business.
Clearly, in order to compete and remain competitive against companies such as Apple and Samsung, BBM was made available for different platforms. But from a consumer perspective, the failure of the launch doesn't set the right tone and if anything, will unfortunately drive down consumer confidence.
In my opinion, one the technical issues are resolved, I'm sure people will download BBM, no doubt about it. However, I also feel there might be another group who now simply won’t bother downloading BBM. All in all, it's been a bad week for BlackBerry and things will get even worse this week once official financial reports are released on Friday.