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BlackBerry Ready to Roll Out BBM Messaging to Apple, Android

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- BlackBerry Ltd.’s BBM instant-messaging system is rolling out to users of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc.’s Android, following a hitch that suspended the software’s introduction last month.

“We are about to officially resume our rollout of BBM for Android and iPhone customers around the globe,” BlackBerry executive Andrew Bocking said in a blog post. “In the next few hours, people will start seeing BBM in Google Play, the App Store and in select Samsung App Stores.”

The debut of the free application, which is designed to let users of non-BlackBerry smartphones exchange text messages on the company’s platform, was postponed last month due to difficulties with the software. At the time, the company blamed an unofficial version of the app for Android that was posted online. That software has since been disabled. Last week, BlackBerry said that about 6 million customers had already preregistered to be notified about the rollout.

BlackBerry, based in Waterloo, Ontario, decided earlier this year to make the free app available to rival phones in a bid to shore up the platform, which has been losing market share to Apple and Android for years.

The move is part of a comeback plan that also involves taking the company private in a $4.7 billion deal backed by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., its biggest shareholder. BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, who together control 8 percent of BlackBerry’s shares, also have said that they’re considering a separate offer.

Last month, BlackBerry said it will cut 4,500 jobs and take a charge of as much as $960 million for unsold smartphone inventory as it fights to return to profitability.

To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net; Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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