After a long wait and some missteps, BlackBerry's BBM messaging app is finally available on Android and iOS. Anyone downloading the app will have to wait, though; sign-up spots are severely limited.
Both the Android and iOS versions of BlackBerry's popular instant-messaging service are now available on the Play Store and the App Store, respectively. The instant-messaging app is a rival to Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Viber and other dialogue-oriented social media services.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) boss Andrew Bocking told CNET that there was no dominant player in mobile messaging and that BlackBerry was responding to demand from its established user base for iOS and Android apps. BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, claims upwards of 60 million users on the existing BBM service for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets.
BlackBerry said over 6 million people pre-registered accounts for the new apps on BBM.com. These users will be able to log into their accounts instantly, but anyone else will have to wait in a queue to gain access; when the apps are launched, a prompt will ask for the owner's email address, and anyone not pre-registered will be told to wait for an email when they have "reached the front of the line".
The app from BlackBerry cites "incredible demand" for accounts as the reason for the delay, but it is likely that a staggered roll-out, with new users slowly and continually allowed to access BBM, will ease the strain on server hardware.
Strangely, anyone with an existing BlackBerry ID, from owning or using a BlackBerry smartphone in the past, is not pre-registered to use the service, despite it having existed for several years solely in the BlackBerry ecosystem.
BlackBerry Messenger was originally slated for a September launch, but a leaked Android copy was distributed early online. Similarly, the BBM iOS app went live in Apple's App Store in India, Malaysia and other regions before the scheduled date. BlackBerry pulled the Android version, citing unforeseen errors with the app, and delayed the launch to rewrite code.