Contrite BlackBerry co-CEOs go into damage-control

Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:23pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion's co-CEOs have apologized to millions of BlackBerry customers for a four-day outage that has tarnished RIM's image and set back its drive to catch up with Apple and other smartphone rivals.

The system-wide failure, which began on Monday, left tens of millions of frustrated BlackBerry users on five continents without email, instant messaging and browsing.

The executives - Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie - made an unusual joint appearance at a news conference on Thursday in an apparent attempt to contain the fallout from a crisis that came at a particularly inopportune time for the company.

RIM, whose share price has tumbled this year, is already reeling after a series of profit warnings and product missteps.

The service disruption could cost the BlackBerry maker millions of dollars in compensation to customers who lost service. Experts say it could also damage the BlackBerry's reputation for reliability, one of its chief selling points.

"We still believe that most of RIM's value is in the network and messaging business and this could crimp that value," Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland said.

"I want to apologize to all the BlackBerry customers we've let down," Lazaridis said in opening the conference call. "Our inability to quickly fix this has been frustrating."

The Canadian-based company said it had fixed the root cause of a global disruption in BlackBerry services and was working to clear a huge backlog caused by the outage.   Continued...

<p>Blackberry smartphones are pictured in this illustration photo taken in Berlin, October 13, 2011. REUTERS/Michael Dalder</p>