And on it goes. The Blackberry outage is now in its third day and has spread to Canada, Japan, Singapore and the US. Meanwhile demands for compensation are increasing as parent company RIM continues to fail to tell its aggrieved customers what is wrong and when the breakdown will be resolved. By Martyn Warwick.
In a statement, RIM simply states, "BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning". They probably knew that for themselves. What's needed is some reassurance not more statements of the bleeding obvious.
So far RIM has failed to respond in any way whatsoever to subscriber demands for financial reparation for the unprecedented loss of service and has left that tricky PR exercise to its customers, the telcos. Thus it was Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates that was the first operator to announce that it will be paying compensation to its BlackBerry subscribers and will, in turn, be demanding reparation from RIM.
RIM's dilatory obfuscation is now doing the company real, possibly permanent, damage. Let us not forget that Apple launches the iPhone 4S, iCloud and iMessage this week - and that iMessage is in direct, head-to-head competition with BBM.
Outrage at the continuing outage - and demands for compensation - would have been even more pronounced had BlackBerry's lucrative enterprise customers been as badly affected as so-called "ordinary consumers". So far they haven't been but domestic subscribers who fell for RIM's advertising blandishments have learned the hard way that they are very much the poor cousins of the yuppy businessmen and women whose companies pay through the nose for devices that are supposed to keep the workforce committed and online day and night. There's a lesson there for starters.
The collapse of Blackberry services is down to the way they are provided. The devices work, and found favour with corporations, because of RIM's sophisticated, encrypted and highly secure 'push' email capabilities whereby RIM's servers receive and then pass on messages more or less the instant they are sent. They just arrive, continuously, without the user having to go to all that bother of pressing a button to check if new mail has arrived. Hence the 'Crackberry' appellation.
That's fine while the system works, but when it falls over and RIM's servers, switches and network fail the jig is up.
Unlike the Pony Express letters, Blackberry emails won't get through - no matter how much Internet connectivity a subscriber may have. The same applies to BBM messages; they go through RIM's data centres and if they go down (as they have) then its a case of goodnight - and good luck with trying to get any explanation or sense out of the company.
The BlackBerry is losing market share to the iPhone and Google Android devices and this prolonged outage, taken in combination with the dreadfully cack-handed way RIM has handled it, is sure to increase churn and put more pressure on a company whose financial results are already in decline.
RIM should have ring-fenced its corporate customers and kept them safe within the BES haven and used Android devices for its second-class domestic users (those who are now being treated with such contempt), then none of this would have happened.
So what is it? Greed? Incompetence? Hubris? Denial? Fear? You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Meanwhile the Twitterati are pouring bile, opprobrium and sarcasm on RIM. One wag observed that it is noble of the Canadian company to close off its services for at least three days to honour the memory of the late Steve Jobs.
The breakdown has also brought conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork and blinking into the light of day with many opining that the outage has been deliberately caused by either the US or UK governments to test their ability to cripple social networking and comms sites in a case of civil unrest growing as a result of the recession, unemployment and increasingly unpopular austerity measures.
This morning RIM has issued another statement admitting that 'some' Blackberry users continue to "experience some issues" - presumably as to how to break their expensive contracts as soon as possible.
RIM is scheduled to hold a developers conference in the near future. It should prove entertaining, if the company has the intestinal fortitude to allow it to go ahead. And where's Jim Balsillie when he's needed? He could have broken cover for long enough to help out his UK Managing Director who was interviewed on national TV news in Britain last night looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
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