BlackBerry outage hits America now, India still not sorted out

BlackBerry outage hits America now, India still not sorted out
Highlights
  • One of the BlackBerry's big attractions is the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, which works like text messaging but doesn't incur extra fees.
Sporadic outages of BlackBerry messaging and email service  have spread to the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, as problems stretched into the third day for Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.  Blackberry users in India report they're still facing problems.

Research In Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the phones, said users in the Americas "may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning," and said it's working to fix the problem.

On Tuesday, RIM said a crucial link in its infrastructure had failed, and a backup didn't work either. It said it was now working to get through a backlog of traffic.

"We're aware many of you are experiencing service delays. Restoring full service is our number 1 priority," BlackBerry tweeted on Wednesday.

The service outage, the longest in many years, added to RIM's woes. The company is struggling with slowing sales and a tablet that's been a dud. Its shares are approaching a five-year low.

Unlike other cellphone makers, RIM handles email and messaging traffic to and from its phones. That allows it to provide services that other phones don't have, lets it optimize data service and provide top-class security. But when it encounters a problem, a large share of the 70 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide can be affected all at once. BlackBerry outages tend to occur several times a year, but they usually last for less than a day.

One of the BlackBerry's big attractions is the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, which works like text messaging but doesn't incur extra fees. That service was affected by the outage, and to make matters worse for RIM, Apple Inc. is releasing software Wednesday for its iPhones that works like BBM. Competition from Apple is one of the chief causes of RIM's diminishing fortunes.
RIM shares fell 42 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $23.99 in morning trading in New York as major indexes rose.

Various technology blogs and sites have faulted RIM for making a bad situation worse by offering a paucity of information to users.  " The whole incident turned into a business school case study of how not to communicate with your customers - Blackberry simply failed to get its message out," writes Rory Cellan-Jones on the bbc's website.

In a column on the Telegraph's website  titled "BlackBerry's masterclass in how not to do PR," (Link) Tom Chivers writes, "of 11am today there was no mention on there of the near-total failure of its services across a significant percentage of the globe; it hasn't been updated for five days. Meanwhile its Twitter accounts trot out impenetrable messages like "Message delays were caused by a core switch failure in RIM's infrastructure", or claiming that services have been restored, shortly before they collapsed again. The online help forums are similarly quiet."
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Further reading: Blackberry outage
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