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One in five considering ditching BlackBerry after service problems

New BlackBerry 7 smartphonesEuropean price comparison website Kelkoo said that in a survey of more than a thousand BlackBerry users, 19 percent are considering moving to another smartphone manufacturer.

The survey was conducted in the wake of a three-day global service outage that knocked out email, Internet and messaging services for millions of BlackBerry smartphone owners.

The problems suffered by Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry, came just a few days before Apple launched its new iPhone 4S smartphone. No doubt the long lines outside Apple stores around the world contained more than one or two BlackBerry owners who had decided to jump ship.

The results of the survey will make grim reading for RIM executives. Besides the 19 percent who are considering ditching their BlackBerry soon, 42 percent are thinking about doing so next time the contract comes up for renewal. At least that gives RIM a window of opportunity where it can offer up some incentives to encourage current BlackBerry users to stay. Any more service problems like the one earlier this week though and it’ll be bye-bye to BlackBerry for many.

Interestingly, of 4,000 people asked, 54 percent said that if they experienced service problems with their phone, they would want some form of compensation; 65 percent would want to be told about the problems straight away; and 67 percent would expect regular updates. RIM came under fire for its seemingly slow response in explaining to customers what was happening during the outage. Finally acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis issued a video apology on Thursday.

Of 3,000 people questioned who don’t currently have a BlackBerry smartphone but are thinking about getting one, 29 percent said they would still purchase one, while the other 71 percent said they could now be put off by the recent issues.

Kelkoo’s chief marketing officer, Chris Simpson, commented on the survey’s findings. “This week has been incredibly difficult for Blackberry users worldwide, however, Blackberry offers a market-leading product with a unique service, which nearly a third of consumers admit they will not find with any other manufacturer.”

He continued: “As such, it has a loyal following and this will stand it in good stead to retain customers. Whilst our research highlights that some consumers intend to jump the Blackberry ship, it could be a very different picture in the coming months when this week’s issues become a distant memory.”

RIM executives will certainly be hoping Simpson is right.