No BBM for Android this week, BlackBerry mulls $4.7bn sale

BBM won't be coming to Android or iOS this week, after a version leaked before it was ready. Meanwhile, BlackBerry's likely to be sold off.

Things are moving fast at BlackBerry -- except in its BBM department. The troubled phonemaker yesterday announced that BBM would not be coming to Android or iOS this week, after a version leaked before it was ready.

Meanwhile, the Canadian company has made preliminary moves to be bought by a private finance company, taking it off the stock market and possibly preparing the way for it to be broken up.

"Last week, an unreleased, older version of the BBM for Android app was posted on numerous file sharing sites," BBM chief Andrew Bocking explained in a blog post. "This older version resulted in volumes of data traffic orders of magnitude higher than normal for each active user and impacted the system in abnormal ways.

"The team is now focused on adjusting the system to completely block this unreleased version of the Android app when we go live with the official BBM for Android app. We are also making sure that the system is reinforced to handle this kind of scenario in the future... This will take some time and I do not anticipate launching this week," Bocking writes.

The premature app was downloaded by nearly a million BBMers before it was yanked .

BlackBerry has signed an agreement with fellow Canadians Fairfax Financial Holdings and other unnamed investors that values the BBM maker at $4.7bn -- roughly the value of the new iPhones sold over the weekend . Five years ago, BlackBerry was worth $83bn.

The potential sale, which both BlackBerry and Fairfax can back out of, and may even end up being worth less, means the company will be able to refocus its efforts without having to worry about its share price. It has a huge number of patents, possibly worth as much as $2bn, and roughly the same amount in cash. But that values its phone-making business, and its BlackBerry 10 software, at almost nothing.

In order for Fairfax and its partners to make money on the deal, it may have to sell off parts of the business, with BBM and its 50 million daily users -- set to rocket if it ever arrives on Android and iOS -- the biggest jewel. The loss-making phone business could be significantly changed too.

"It is not impossible that the handset business is closed all together," says Radio Free Mobile analyst Dr Richard Windsor, "and the company moves to a complete ODM sourcing of handsets," meaning a third party could make BlackBerry-branded phones with BB10.

BlackBerry announced a massive $1bn loss in the second quarter of the year, due to its mediocre Z10 phone failing to entice the phone-buying public. The company will lay off 4,500 staff to save money.

Are you sad to see the demise of BlackBerry? Would you keep buying BlackBerrys if they were made by someone else? And what do you make of the BBM delay? Let me know in the comments, or on our always-on Facebook page.

 

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