RIM reports "critical" BlackBerry outage

Mon Feb 11, 2008 5:55pm EST
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion's ubiquitous BlackBerry experienced a "critical severity outage" on Monday afternoon that left users stranded without wireless e-mail access, its maker said.

RIM notified its clients of the outage in an e-mail. Company officials were not available for comment.

"This is an emergency notification regarding the current BlackBerry Infrastructure outage," RIM support account manager Bryan Simpson said in the e-mail, which was sent to the company's large clients. The message said the outage affected business clients and "users of the Americas network."

The notice gave no estimate on the cause, when service might be restored or how many people could be affected.

By about 5:30 p.m. Eastern time -- more than an hour after RIM notified its customers of the problem -- some customers said a few e-mails were trickling through. Others, however, continued to be without service.

Still others appeared to enjoy a respite from a device affectionately dubbed the "CrackBerry" by its more compulsive users. On Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Liberal Party spokesman Jean-Francois Del Torchio said things seemed very relaxed for a while.

"It made my life a little bit easier, since I didn't have to reply. But when I arrived at my desktop and I saw all the e-mails I received, I was like, 'Oh, I still need to work'," he told Reuters.

But Carmi Levy, senior vice-president of strategic consulting at AR Communications, said service reliability is a serious concern for companies like RIM, because if problems become routine, they can turn customers and prospective buyers away.   Continued...

<p>Blackberry devices are used in Los Angeles March 3, 2006. E-mail service of Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones experienced a "critical severity outage" on Monday, the company told clients in an e-mail. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>