As Apple, Google and Microsoft smother BlackBerry, the Canadian RIM owned company had but one thing going for it: its independent email, internet and messaging service. But for day 3 now the system is down, agitating its millions of customers around the world and spreading like a potent virus
The outage is getting worse, spreading virally from Europe, Middle East and Africa, to now include India, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and most recently, the United States.
“Engineers are working around the clock to fix the problem,” said Stephan Bates, RIM’s UK managing director.
BlackBerry’s parent company told the BBC a failing core switch in Slough, England, triggered the outage.
“The messaging and browsing delays… in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure,” a company statement said.
“Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”
Users affected by the outage turned to twitter, venting about their lack of email.
“This blackberry situation is actually beyond a joke now :@” tweeted Alex O’Hara.
Carlos Mancera noted “RIM has become a reactionary company trying to compete in an innovative industry.”
Comically, BlackBerry reported earlier the backlog had been cleared and that email, web and BlackBerry Messenger were “operating normally.” The company withdrew the claim hours later, when users continued to report problems with the service.
BlackBerry’s BIS infrastructure is a key reason its fans stay loyal to the brand, whose recent slew of products have been boring and mediocre. With increasing email support for Apple’s platform, Android’s rising popularity and Facebook’s to-be-rolled-out text messaging service, its customers have little reason to stand by the failing brand.
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Worse yet, overnight Apple released its iOS 5 software for iPhone, complete with its free iMessenger application. The app lets users send messages, pictures and videos for free via mobile internet.
Apple’s market share dwarfs BlackBerry’s, its iPhone has arguably the best internet browser and its user base is greater, threatening BlackBerry’s once monopoly on free messaging.
BlackBerry is already enduring financial turmoil, with the company’s shares plummeting 58 per cent within the past year, and its profits plunging 59 per cent. Its limp performance is seeing a concerning number of shareholders motion for a sale or merger. The recent outage will simply add fuel to an already blazing fire.