Legions of Android and iOS users were delighted to find the BlackBerry Messenger app in their respective app stores earlier this month, but unfortunately for them, the app has now been pulled on both platforms with BlackBerry claiming that BBM isn’t actually ready to use.
It was previously announced that the Android BBM app would be available on September 21, with the iOS version’s release data penned for September 22, only for the latter version to be released prematurely. Before the official release of BBM for Android, an earlier release of the app also made its way online. The unreleased version garnered 1.1 million active users within eight hours of it making its debut on Google Play. Unfortunately for BlackBerry, a number of issues with BBM immediately cropped up that it was unable to address. Thus, both the Android and iOS apps were pulled.
BlackBerry says that the apps aren’t quite good enough to be used by the public at this moment, and so its opted to remove the apps instead of having people complain about it being half-baked. iOS users who were able to download the app can continue using BBM for iPhone, but the same doesn’t apply for Android users.
“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 roll-out 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,” BlackBerry posted on its page.
Though technical issues with the apps were stated as the official reason for the pull out, one cannot help but think that this could all be related to BlackBerry’s overall demise.
Back in August, BlackBerry announced it was contemplating whether to find a buyer or sell off various assets to different companies as its business continues to fall apart. Analysts doubt that BlackBerry will be able to revive itself and claw back its once iconic status in the mobile world. Recent reports have suggested there are some big names in the industry that have shown an interest in acquiring BlackBerry, either as a whole or in parts, such as Lenovo, IBM, Dell, and Samsung.
Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of BlackBerry who stepped down as co-CEO in January of 2012, is considering to bid to privatize the company. Lazaridis is said to have approached both the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group separately, with a view to making an offer. Even so, BlackBerry’s chances of going private are becoming increasingly slim, as its share value continues to plummet.
Over the weekend, BlackBerry posted its preliminary second quarter fiscal 2014 results. The company expects a GAAP net operating loss of approximately $950 million to $995 million, which includes a primarily non-cash, pre-tax inventory charge of approximately $930 million to $960 million, and a pre-tax restructuring charge of $72 million. It says that this is the result of an increasingly competitive business environment impacting BlackBerry smartphone volumes.
BlackBerry also announced that it will soon be laying off 4,500 workers – approximately 40 percent of its global workforce – resulting in a total workforce of approximately 7,000 full-time global employees. The company is also targeting an approximate 50% reduction in operating expenditures by the end of the first quarter of Fiscal 2015.
“We are implementing the difficult, but necessary operational changes announced today to address our position in a maturing and more competitive industry, and to drive the company toward profitability. Going forward, we plan to refocus our offering on our end-to-end solution of hardware, software and services for enterprises and the productive, professional end user. This puts us squarely on target with the customers that helped build BlackBerry into the leading brand today for enterprise security, manageability and reliability,” Thorsten Heins, President and Chief Executive Officer of BlackBerry, said.
With the announcement of the massive layoff and still no sign of any concrete interest from potential buyers, the future of BlackBerry seems bleak and troubling.