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The BlackBerry Outage: Who’s to Blame and Will It Happen Again?

This week, millions of BlackBerry users remained without service for three days straight, due to a network outage. You all know what BlackBerry stands for and why people buy it. Business wise and for personal communications, this is the perfect device. Great e-mail service and a long history of satisfying their customers made RIM (Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smartphones) a very powerful company. Sadly, lately things haven’t gone so well for them and you they have no one else to blame but themselves.

The latest outage which I mentioned above created massive frustrations for people who really count on their smartphones for their daily activities. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about handful of people which simply were unlucky. No, the outage apparently affected millions of people on practically every continent. At the moment, there are roughly 70 million BlackBerry users worldwide and about 15% of them were affected by the outage, so that’s a big number of angry customers that RIM has to deal with.

So, who’s to blame for this situation? Stephen Bates, RIM’s managing director in the UK gave a short statement claiming that ”an extremely critical issue on the BlackBerry network caused the outage and we’re putting all of out focus with all of our engineers and all of our network specialists on trying to understand the nature of why this backup system didn’t work as it should have…” That’s pretty much the standard phrase in these sorts of situations. You say that a critical issue is causing all this and that everyone’s doing all they can to solve the problem. What people really wanted to see is a culprit, they want to see him with a guilty stamp on his/her forehead and watch him being shipped off to a deserted island. They want to believe that somehow a person screw up some wires and that’s why they weren’t able to send or receive text messages, emails and access an Internet connection. The reason why they want to believe this is that the other option is to believe that the Canadian company (RIM) is simply encountering these sorts of problems in such a day and age, which is shocking and disappointing.

Further investigation finally proved that people all across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, North America, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, suffered because of a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure and although the system was designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover simply didn’t function. If only this was a one time error, maybe people could have moved on easier, but the truth is every 3-4 years, RIM gets pinched by all kinds of major problems and people are getting fed up with it. On the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, alongside angry comments, people also made fun of the situation, posting jokes such as: ”What did the one Blackberry user say to the other?……….nothing….”, “One positive of the Blackberry crisis – my personal trainer can’t get hold of me. Ordering Burgers” or ”iPhone users everywhere smile smugly and search for the ‘I Told You So’ app.”

On the serious side, the timing   Newsrooms couldn’t have been worst for BlackBerry because it faces increasing competition in the smartphone world, with more and more people preferring Apple’s iPhone or phone on the Google Android operating system. As I said, the outage comes at a particularly bad time for RIM because of the launch of the iPhone 4S, the latest device from the Cupertino-based company and a smartphone that once again managed to blow away any previous thoughts and conceptions on how smartphones should work. Following these sad days for BlackBerry, more and more users announced their intentions of buying an iPhone 4S or to shift towards Android. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the handsets made by RIM and I can only hope that they’ll be able to put these problems behind them and focus on the feature in order to turn things around, which isn’t gonna be easy at all.

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