BlackBerry users express anger at two day outage

Lack of service or information riles businesspeople and consumers

BlackBerry users around the world have expressed immense frustration that at an outage has paralysed their mobile email, internet and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) services for almost two days.

Users and IT analysts have said they were "stunned" that there was apparently no successful failover system in place to restore the services quickly.

"It was a very, very long outage, much longer than any outage I have ever seen to such a service," said Richard Holway, a BlackBerry customer and chairman at analyst house TechMarketView.

"It puts great questions on RIM, and I suspect customers will think twice about renewing their contracts."

Holway, an IT services market expert, said that "all businesses" suffered "temporary outages", but the important issues were "how people fix the problem, and how they communicate with customers".

He and hundreds of Twitter users said they had received no communication from RIM around when their data services would be restored - even though text messages and phone services remained active.

Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC, said it was "not the first time this has happened, but this is on a large scale".

"I'm not sure people will leave BlackBerry yet," he said, "unless this problem continues for longer."

RIM has an advanced failover setup for BlackBerry services, with a remote backup data centre, Jeronimo noted. He questioned what the problem was that prevented this failover from working. "It's state of the art. I don't know why it hasn't kicked in."

"RIM has to be careful," he said. "Apple is introducing products and services very similar to BlackBerry corporate offerings."

Thomas Husson, principal analyst at Forrester, supported the many BlackBerry customers who have complained on Twitter that RIM has failed to keep them up to date on their service.

"I personally haven't received any communication from RIM and don't know if they have reached out to customers," he said. "For sure, it has an impact on their operators' partnerships since operators are the ones in touch with customers - who may have complained to call centres thinking it was a network-related issue."

Husson called on RIM to "use social media monitoring tools and to be very reactive", offering extra customer support. So far, RIM's Twitter feed has offered little information.

Late on Tuesday, RIM issued a brief statement that offered absolutely no detail for customers, and sought to downplay the issue.

"Some users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are experiencing messaging and browsing delays," it said. "We are working to restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused."

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