RIM apologizes for BlackBerry outage in Europe

As if to add insult to injury, on the morning of the day when the iPhone 5 went on sale internationally, BlackBerry users across the world woke up to discover that their devices didn’t work anymore.

Well, kind of.

What actually happened was that users throughout Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East had connectivity issues with the BlackBerry Messenger, email and Internet access for around four hours from 8am BST onwards. It took some time for BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion to acknowledge the problem – almost two hours, in fact, before the company Tweeted that “some users in Europe, Middle East and Africa are experiencing issues with their BlackBerry service,” updating around ten minutes later with “We are investigating and apologize for any inconvenience.”

Around two and a half hours later, service was fully restored.

An official statement from RIM offered “our apologies to any customers impacted by the BlackBerry service issue today,” going on to add that “We can confirm that services have been restored and are now operating normally.” It’s not known exactly what the problem was at this time; according to a spokesperson in London, the issue only affected users using specific carriers, with Vodaphone being named in a statement to the Guardian newspaper. John Jackson, a wireless analyst at CCS Insight told Reuters that the outage may be connected with a similar problem that befell the device last October, and suggests that it’s a bad sign of thing to come. “That RIM has experienced another outage is worrisome,” he said, adding that it could be seen as a hint that “something hasn’t been put right” after last October.

Oddly enough, that particular October 2011 outage – which lasted for four days and affected tens of millions of users across the world, embarrassing the company and leading to a public backlash against both Research In Motion and the BlackBerry as a device – also coincided with a major Apple release, this time the release of Apple’s iPhone 4S. While it’s a step towards conspiracy theory to suggest any connection between iPhone releases and BlackBerry outages, it’s definitely a very strange coincidence. Joking about the outages being some inept attempt to divert attention away from the iPhone sales, it’s perhaps woth suggesting that RIM should consider beefing up resources as soon as the next iPhone release is announced, just as a precaution, based on past experience. If nothing else, it couldn’t hurt.

In a public apology to users, RIM’s chief executive Thorsten Heins said that the company is “conducting a full technical analysis of this quality of service issue and will report as soon as it concludes.” The emailed statement ended with Heins adding “I again want to apologize to those customers who were impacted today.”

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