RIM and Apple both experienced some trouble with their respective mobility services, including a major BlackBerry outage and some reported issues with downloading iOS 5.
Research In Motion ended up having a very bad week, thanks to a
hardware issue that knocked out BlackBerry service for millions of
customers around the world. Rival Apple, whose public profile is
particularly high at the moment with the Oct. 14 launch of its new
iPhone 4S, encountered some minor bumps when customers complained of
issues when upgrading to the new iOS 5 operating system.
RIM finally managed to bring the global outages to its
BlackBerry service under control by Oct. 13, four days after they began. That
morning, 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.
That didn't satisfy some analysts, who criticized RIM's
tactics in the midst of the crisis.
"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
As noted by many analysts and pundits over the past few
days, the outages hit at a particularly auspicious moment for RIM, which is
undergoing what its executives refer to as a "transition period." Within the
next few quarters, the company will release QNX-based "superphones" that will
supposedly allow it to reclaim the competitive initiative from the likes of
Apple's iPhone and Google Android. In the interim, however, its finances are
taking something of a beating: during its Sept. 15 earnings call, RIM reported
revenues of $4.2 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2012, a 15 percent
decline from the $4.9 billion it earned during the previous quarter.
Moreover, RIM faces a significant challenge to its
traditional power-base within the enterprise: driven by lower IT budgets and
the increased popularity of smartphones like the iPhone, more CIOs and IT pros
have initiated "bring-your-own-device" policies for workplaces. That has kicked
off a flood of personal Android and iOS devices into the corporate IT
infrastructure-and, according to one analyst, affected the tone of the
"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 doesn'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."
To be fair, though, even RIM's competitors suffered a
less-than-stellar week when it came to smartphone-related services: users
trying to download the new version of Apple's iTunes and the iOS 5 mobile
operating system have reportedly strained that company's servers, leading to
error messages and irate users on Twitter and Apple support forums.
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