Second outage deepens BlackBerry crisis as users resort to Twitter to complain
MILLIONS of BlackBerry mobile users endured a second day without access to the internet on Tuesday, despite a claim by the firm behind the smartphone brand it had "restored" online services in the wake of a similar collapse on Monday.
The crisis for RIM, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry mobiles, also deepened as users in India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina joined those across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the blackout.
They were unable to browse the web or use BBM, a popular instant messenging service that offers a free alternative to text messaging and is a major selling point for BlackBerry devices.
The second outage appeared to follow roughly the same pattern as Monday’s failure, which lasted for up to 20 hours. Online services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa are provided via a data centre in Slough, Berkshire, promting speculation that there was a major technical fault at the site.
At around 10AM on Tuesday, RIM told users via Twitter that “BlackBerry services have been restored”. But after 12PM complaints began to appear that the problems had returned.
Blackberry still useless,” said Alistair Campbell, the Labour spin doctor, on Twitter.
“Pen, paper and pigeon the way to go.”
RIM initially declined to comment on the renewed problems, which were instead confirmed by a spokesman for the mobile network O2, along with public statements by operators in Bahrain and Qatar, among others.
Bob Collymore, the CEO of the Kenyan operator Safaricom, told his Twitter followers: “RIM has advised us that the BlackBerry service in EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] is down again.
“They are working to fix it but not sure when solution will be found.”
When RIM publicly acknowledged the second failure, at around 4pm, it revealed that users in India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina were also cut off from online services.
“Some users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are experiencing messaging and browsing delays,” RIM said in a statement.
“We are working to restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”
The company released a second statement at around 10pm saying the "delays" were "caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure. 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. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed".
RIM now faces a potential exodus of angry users for whom the second outage was the final straw.
Rob Flello, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, said on Twitter: "Blackberry stopped working again - looks like I will be trading it in for an iPhone!!"
Abidemi Sanusi, a Nigerian writer who lives in Britain, added: “Unbelievable. Blackberry is down again. iPhone or Samsung phone anyone? Grr.”
During both outages RIM was slow to issue updates. Its public relations efforts were widely criticised, including by Mr Campbell.
“Amazed that Blackberry can be so good at Blackberry stuff, but so bad at crisis comms to customers,” he said.
Notorious for his temper, the former Downing Street communications chief added a “hashtag” to his criticism, which Twitter users sometimes use to encourage others to join a discussion. It read: “#getmybloodyblackberrybackon”.
The outages further stack the odds against RIM, which launched the BlackBerry line in 1999.
The firm was already under increasing pressure from more recent entrants to the smartphone market such as Apple and Google. Its second quarter results last month revealed a sharp drop in profits and failure to meet sales targets.