BlackBerry’s network suffered an outage around 9 a.m. ET March 4, affecting some users in Canada and the Asia-Pacific region.
Reuters reported at midday that BlackBerry had confirmed the outages. It added that BlackBerry “had identified a potential cause and was working on a fix.”
Around 2:45 p.m. ET, a BlackBerry spokesperson told eWEEK, “BlackBerry can confirm that all service issues impacting some users in Canada and the Asia-Pacific region have been resolved. Thank you for your patience.”
Candianoutages.com, a site reporting issues with a variety of popular sites and services, showed that the issue began during the East Coast’s Tuesday morning workday and spiked around 11 a.m., when the site received 428 reports. It dipped below 200 reports near noon, jumped just above 200 quickly afterward and by 2:30 p.m. was registering just a few dozen reports.
BlackBerry prides itself on its security features and the reliability of its operations, which governments and health care providers rely on. This is the first outage since John Chen became CEO.
With BlackBerry’s user numbers at a minimum and Chen fighting to keep current subscribers loyal, the company’s response to the event—how quickly it repaired the problem and how thoroughly and sensitively it communicated the issue to users—were essential to get right.
No Good Time for an Outage
In May 2013, the same day BlackBerry boasted that the Department of Defense had approved its smartphones, tablets and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 for use on the DOD networks, part of BlackBerry’s network went out for roughly three-and-a-half hours.
In 2012, it went out for another three hours in parts of Europe and Africa, the same day the Apple iPhone 5 went on sale.
But it was the four-day outage in October 2011 that had the greatest impact on the BlackBerry brand.
The outage began on a Monday and continued through that Thursday, affecting customers in Europe and dotting the globe. While the company made gestures to keep customers up-to-date—then-CIO Robin Bienfait blogged an update, and others Tweeted—subscribers didn’t hear from co-founder and then-co-CEO Mike Lazaridis until that Thursday, when the company posted a video to YouTube in which Lazaridis apologized for letting down BlackBerry’s customers.
During a call with media and analysts the same day, Lazaradis—the technical ying to the business-focused yang of co-founder and then-co-CEO Jim Balsillie—said he had been very directly involved in trying to get the system back up and that no one had left the building, or tried to do anything but fix the problem since the problem started.
In the very bare-bones YouTube video, Lazaridis certainly looks like someone who just spent three sleepless nights in a server room.
BlackBerry tried to make amends by offering customers a number of premium applications for free, but some of the unappeased filed class-action suits against BlackBerry in the U.S. and Canada.
In December, Yahoo’s email service also suffered an outage that for some users lasted nearly a full work week. The issue was further exacerbated for some, who incorrectly received a “scheduled maintenance page” when trying to access their accounts, while others were upset by what they said was a completely lack of communication from Yahoo.
That Friday, CEO Marissa Mayer said in a blog post, sans video, that Yahoo was sorry.