RIM is offering free BlackBerry apps as part of its make-good for last week's BlackBerry service outages.
Research In Motion has decided that a few free apps will
ease customer pain over widespread BlackBerry outages last week.
RIM claimed in an Oct. 17 statement that the apps would be
available "over the coming weeks" on BlackBerry App World. The 12 apps listed so far include games such as Sims 3
and N.O.V.A., along with Photo Editor Ultimate, iSpeech Translator Pro and
Shazam Encore. The company promises more to come; in addition, enterprise customers
will apparently receive a month of free technical support, and "current
customers" will be offered "a complimentary one-month extension of their
existing Technical Support contract."
For much of the previous week, RIM wrestled to contain a global
outage of BlackBerry service. The situation seemed under control by Oct. 13,
when RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis told media and analysts on a conference call
that "immediate and aggressive steps" were being taken "to minimize the risk of
this happening again." Both Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie insisted that
RIM would work to regain customers' trust following the incident.
The outages smacked RIM at a turbulent moment, with the
company undergoing what its executives refer to as a "transition period." In
the face of declining revenues, RIM is betting big on an upcoming generation of
QNX-based "superphones" that will apparently offer hardware and software parity
with the company's higher-end competitors. Until those devices hit store
shelves, RIM hopes that a new line of BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry
7 OS will help it retain market share, even as Google Android and Apple's iOS
poise an increasing challenge to RIM's traditional user base.
During the early part of the BlackBerry outage, analysts
criticized RIM's response.
"The extent of the outage has been and continues to be
shocking," Stephen Mann, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in an Oct. 12 posting
on his corporate
. Moreover, he added, RIM's communications with customers "have been
lacking and one could argue that their tone has been terse-a far cry from
Another argued that RIM's declining market share among
business users had changed the tone of customer response to the outage.
"What's interested to me is that there wasn't a bigger
outcry from IT managers," Phillip Redman, an analyst with Gartner, wrote in an
Oct. 13 posting on his corporate
. "Many companies today have as many iPhones as they do BlackBerry
devices. Fewer of their employees, and their businesses, were impacted by the
While he didn't believe that the outage "will lead to a
faster move off of BlackBerry onto other platforms, it doesn't build a stronger
case to stay," and that enterprises supporting "a diverse environment will be
impacted less if one goes down."
But it's ultimately up to the customers whether the
outage-and RIM's make-good in the form of free apps and customer support-is
enough to persuade them to stick with their BlackBerrys.
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