Outage Affects European RIM Customers

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OTTAWA -- Research in Motion said that an unidentified technical problem temporarily cut off BlackBerry e-mail and other services to customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on Friday.

The company did not respond to specific questions about the extent or duration of the outage. But the timing of its Twitter messages about the incident suggested that the shutdown lasted for several hours.

Amy Jones, a spokeswoman for RIM, said that "a full investigation is under way" and that normal service had been restored.

Eleven months ago, a prolonged shutdown of BlackBerry services in the same region created such a backlog of undelivered messages within RIM's computer system that it triggered a near global service shutdown.

The company blamed that incident on the failure of a "core switch," a specialized computer that links RIM's unique global network to the Internet as well as telephone company networks, located in Slough, England. The company also said that a backup switch also failed.

To add to the RIM's embarrassment, Friday's failure came on the same day that Apple began selling a new version of the iPhone, the device that dislodged the BlackBerry as the defining smartphone.

While RIM's global network allows the company to provide high levels of security on BlackBerrys used by corporate and government customers, it has been prone to occasional widespread failures.

RIM's already depressed stock price has continued to sink over the past year and the BlackBerry global market share has fallen by more than half to under 5 percent.

The company has delayed the introduction of a new line of phones and operating system, which had originally been expected about a year ago. It hopes the new products will lure customers away from iPhones and phones running Google's Android operating system.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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