BlackBerry services 'improving' after three-day blackout
BlackBerry-maker RIM claims that services are improving following a blackout that left users without a service for three days.
The company posted a message this morning saying: “From 6am BST today, all services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as India, have been operating with significant improvement. We continue to monitor the situation 24x7 to ensure ongoing stability. Thank you for your patience.”
BlackBerry services went down on Monday and, apart from a brief period on Tuesday morning, have been down since then. Last night there were reports that users in the United States, Japan and Singapore were having difficulties getting online.
The firm is facing growing calls for compensation from users all over the world. European, Middle Eastern and African BlackBerry owners endured three working days without mobile internet access, including email and instant messaging.
RIM made no comment on the whether it would offer any money back as it battled to restore services. Users bombarded its Twitter accounts with demands for compensation on Wednesday afternoon.
Etisalat, a mobile operator in the United Arab Emirates’, became the first network to announce its customers will be compensated. Both contract and pay-as-you-go customers in the Gulf state will receive free service equivalent to three days' BlackBerry usage.
British operators have made no comment on compensation, but it is understood they do not expect to offer any and blame RIM for the outage.
In a speech at an industry event on Tuesday night, the Canadian firm's UK managing director Stephen Bates issued an apology for the ongoing blackout.
"We are working night and day to solve the outage. Our apologies to all our customers," he said.
After the service was briefly restored and then collapsed again on Tuesday morning, Mr Bates explained that "[we] thought we had found the problem but had not". RIM later said a broken switch in its core infrastructure was to blame for the renewed failure.
"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," the company said.
Criticism of RIM's communication strategy continued, with experts lined up to condemn its public handling of the crisis. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former communications chief, offered the firm some "free advice" this morning.
"Explain while you fix. Apologise when you have. Recompense after. Handling so far woeful," he said.
The timing is particularly unfortunate for RIM, according to industry analysts, as Apple launches the iPhone 4S and competing internet services this week, including iMessage, a rival to BBM.
Ian Fogg, a mobile industry analyst, said RIM had built its reputation on reliability.
"RIM is in danger of becoming its own worst enemy if it is unable to reliably operate the communication services that have differentiated it," he said on his blog.
"BBM is the reason many young consumers stay with BlackBerry. If it doesn’t work, they will leave RIM."