BBM chief Andrew Bocking departs BlackBerry

BlackBerry has confirmed that BBM head Andrew Bocking has left the ailing smartphone maker.

The company has not revealed the reasons for his departure, although newly-appointed CEO John Chen said Bocking "made the decision to leave BlackBerry" himself, before adding "we thank him for his years of leadership and contribution."

Bocking, in his role as executive vice president in charge of BBM, had been responsible for overseeing the release of the Android and iOS versions of the company's popular instant messaging app in recent times.

It rocketed up the charts to become the number-one free app on the App Store and Google Play with more than 10 million downloads on the first day.

Despite slumping hardware sales, BBM enjoys 70 million users worldwide. Dedicated users prefer it for its reliability and notification of when a message has been delivered and read.

Though the apps succeeded, poor hardware sales and a lacklustre consumer response to the BlackBerry 10 operating system heralded sweeping changes at the firm last November.

These included the departure of former CEO Thorsten Heins, who was replaced with Chen, a businessman known for his ability to turn around struggling companies.

Chen is folding the BBM team into BlackBerry executive John Sims's Global Enterprise Solutions, a decision which may have played a role in Bocking's departure.

Bocking has worked at the company since graduating from Queen's University in 2000.