BlackBerry launches Messenger for Android, iPhone

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) made its signature Messenger chat service available Monday afternoon to users of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platforms after weeks of delay. However, customers who did not pre-register to get the app had to download it and enter their email address to get a spot in line and wait a bit before getting access to use the app.

BlackBerry said on late Monday night via Twitter that more than 5 million people had downloaded the cross-platform BBM app in the eight hours after it was released. The company announced the milestone in a Twitter post that said the "next 5 million" people who want to download the app could get in line.

The rollout of BBM to other platforms was initially set for late September, but the launch was put on hold after an unreleased version of the Android app leaked online, wreaking havoc with the company's official release schedule. 

"The demand for BBM on Android and BBM on iPhone continues to be amazing," Andrew Bocking, the head of BBM for Blackberry, wrote in a company blog post. "About six million people signed up for information about BBM at BBM.com. As you know, in just seven hours, about one million Android users were using the unreleased version of BBM for Android. What you don't know is that more than one million people have found creative ways to 'side load' BBM on their iPhone. This is incredible."

BBM is now available in Google Play, Apple's App Store and in select Samsung App Stores. The cross-platform BBM will enable users to interact across multiple mobile operating systems and includes core features such as 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 are expected to 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.

"If you are among the millions that took the time to sign up at BBM.com, you can start using BBM immediately without waiting in line," Bocking wrote.  "If you didn't sign up in advance, don't worry--we are focused on moving millions of customers through the line as fast as possible."

The rollout comes as questions continue to swirl about BlackBerry's future. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese PC and smartphone maker Lenovo was actively considering purchasing all of BlackBerry.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that Lenovo had signed a non-disclosure agreement that lets it look at BlackBerry's books. BlackBerry and Lenovo declined to comment, according to the Journal. Additionally, last week both Bloomberg and AllThingsD reported that, according to unnamed sources, Cerberus Capital Management, which specializes in distressed assets, signed a similar agreement with the struggling smartphone maker.

BlackBerry is currently working with a consortium led by its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings, to take BlackBerry private in a $4.7 billion deal. But the firm can look for other suitors until Nov. 4.

For more:
- see this BlackBerry blog post
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article
- see this The Next Web article
- see this separate CNET article

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BlackBerry mulling Messenger expansion to more platforms beyond Android, iOS
BlackBerry Messenger for Android, iPhone pushed back at least a week
BlackBerry suspends Messenger for Android, iOS rollout after leak
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Rumor Mill: BlackBerry weighs Messenger spinoff

Article updated on Oct. 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET with additional information from BlackBerry on the BBM launch.