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Luckily, I'm not one of the 80 million Blackberry users who have suffered lack of access to emails, internet and instant messaging over the last few days, but I am surprised by the way Blackberry has dealt with this outage. For Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturers of Blackberry phones, this outage has been nothing short of a PR disaster, with little or no contact with Blackberry users to inform them what is being done to resolve the problems.
It has taken Blackberry three days to come forward with anything resembling a reason for the outage. The following statement was issued by the UK and Ireland Managing Director, Stephen Bates:
“We thought we had found the problem [BB outage] but had not. We are working around the clock to get to the bottom of the problem. We are working night and day to solve the outage. Our apologies to all our customers."
On Monday, Blackberry’s Twitter feed was similarly vague – "BlackBerry services have been restored. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused" – clearly it was not.
RIM has given customers and users the appearance that they are not interested in their problems and that, first and foremost, they are focused on the technical issues, rather than the inconvenience caused.
Surprisingly, for a company that makes a very hefty living from communications, they have broken one of the cardinal rules of business – not explaining quickly and adequately what the problem is to customers and how it will be solved.
This isn’t the first time that RIM has had outages and Crackberry.com wrote as early as 2008 - “If there is one area however where I think you could level a valid complaint against RIM, it's notifying people of outages.” So, unfortunately, it looks like RIM has learned nothing from previous issues.