Some RIM BlackBerry users in Europe and Africa suffered a three-hour BBM outage early on Sept. 21, the day the iPhone 5 was greeted by fans camping on sidewalks.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion had the
particularly bad luck of suffering a network outage early Sept. 21, the day the
Apple iPhone 5 went on sale to tremendous response.
The outage extended to approximately 6
percent of BlackBerry users, or 4.7 million people, in Europe and Africa. It
affected RIM's popular BlackBerry Messenger service and users' email and
Internet access, though they could still receive text messages and place calls.
Working quickly to take Friday's situation in
hand, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins issued a statement that included a double apology
though no explanation:
I want to apologize to those BlackBerry
customers in Europe and Africa who experienced an impact in their quality of
service earlier this morning. The BlackBerry service is now fully restored and
I can report that no data or messages were lost. Up to 5 percent of our user
base may have been impacted. Preliminary analysis suggests that those customers
may have experienced a maximum delay of 3 hours in the delivery and reception
of their messages. We are conducting a full technology analysis of this quality
of service issue and will report as soon as it concludes. I again want to
apologize to those customers who were impacted today.
The timing was further unfortunate for
offering a reminder of last autumn's days-long BlackBerry outage, which eventually
was pinpointed to a faulty switch in a data center in the United Kingdom.
But worst of all, the outage-to a service
touted for its security and reliability-comes as RIM arguably fights for its
life. Quarter after quarter the company has been losing revenue and losing
market share to Android-running smartphones and the iPhone. Increasingly, it
even faces a competitor in Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.
With Apple and Android dominating, RIM and
Windows Phone are in competition for what analysts say is the third major
platform that the wireless carriers will support-though some believe Apple and
Android will dominate the industry to the point of leaving as little as 2
percent of global market share to a third platform.
This month Nokia and HTC each introduced new
Windows Phone 8-running smartphones that will arrive in time for the holidays.
Samsung is enjoying record-breaking sales with its Galaxy S III and is rumored
to have another smartphone planned in time for holiday sales, and of course
there's now that iPhone 5.
RIM, meanwhile, is in a holding pattern. In
addition to a $518 million loss, Heins announced during RIM's June earnings
call that the company would again
have to delay the release of BlackBerry 10
-a completely new platform and
new smartphone experience that the company is counting on to turn things
around-until early 2013.
Shortly afterward, on
a Canadian radio program, Heins
acknowledged that the coming months
wouldn't be easy.
"We will face our challenges in the U.S.
in the next six months, I understand that," Heins told the program's host.
"But I am positive that when we launch BlackBerry 10, there will be huge
support from our carrier partners, from our enterprise customers and that we
will reemerge-specifically in the U.S. and in Canada-as a very strong player,
not just in the smartphone market but also emerging into the mobile computing
Given all that's on RIM's plate, a three-hour
outage will either be the ironic cherry on its pile of problems or else, relative
to that pile, small potatoes.