RIM scrambles to end global BlackBerry outage

Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:33pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp and Georgina Prodhan

TORONTO/LONDON (Reuters) - The company that makes the BlackBerry smartphone is working frantically to end a three-day global service disruption that has frustrated millions of its customers and pumped up pressure on its management to make sweeping changes.

Research In Motion, in a hastily announced conference call on Wednesday, vowed to eventually deliver all delayed email and instant messages to customers in five continents affected by the outage.

It later told some of its corporate clients that it may not clear the huge backlog of messages until Thursday morning on the U.S. East Coast.

The outage - and RIM's sluggish communications with its customers - have fanned rising dissatisfaction with its co-chief executives, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.

Critics have called for a shake-up, saying the top managers have let the company fall too far behind Apple and other rivals in a rapidly changing market.

"The board clearly needs to take decisive action now - they need to draw a line in the sand," said Richard Levick, who runs a consultancy that specializes in crisis management.

"RIM needs to change its DNA entirely - they need to start thinking like a startup again, instead of a former market leader," he said.

Though RIM's stock dropped modestly on Wednesday, its shares have already tumbled more than 50 percent this year on a series of profit warnings and product missteps - a sharp reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated the smartphone market.   Continued...

<p>A person uses the new Blackberry Bold 9900 at a release party to promote the BlackBerry OS 7 devices in Toronto August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>