RIM Restores BlackBerry Services

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RIM has brought messaging and browsing services back online following a 20-hour outage across EMEA

BlackBerry services have been restored across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, following a 20-hour outage that lasted through Monday, according to Research In Motion (RIM).

RIM issued a statement at 05:50 BST on Tuesday morning saying services were now operating normally. The company offered an apology but gave no further details about what had caused the outage.

Data centre crash

The blackout left BlackBerry users without access to email, web or messaging services beginning at around 11am on Monday. The source of the outage is believed to have been a server problem at RIM’s data centre in Slough, according to several reports.

The Slough data centre provides all of RIM’s BlackBerry online services, according to the Telegraph.

Users were still able to make telephone calls and send and receive text messages.

Several corporate customers reportedly did not lose service, indicating that the problem may have affected RIM’s BIS systems, used by consumers, while leaving the BES enterprise infrastructure unaffected.

Day-long outage

The outage began for some customers at around 11am on Monday morning, with Vodafone UK customer services claiming that the outage had affected 80 percent of UK BlackBerry users on all mobile networks. T-Mobile UK support also tweeted that there was “an issue with Blackberry services”.

“Some users in EMEA are experiencing issues. We’re investigating, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” tweeted BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) at around 3pm BST on Monday.

Many BlackBerry users were particularly annoyed at being cut off from BBM, RIM’s free instant messaging service, taking to Twitter to complain about the outage.

“So I have no email, Twitter or BBM on my BlackBerry,” said Amanda from Twickenham. “I may as well cut one of my arms off too *angry face*.”

History of problems

This is not the first time that BlackBerry users have been prevented from using data services due to an outage. In April 2009, hundreds of thousands of customers in Europe reportedly had their mobile email interrupted due to problems with RIM’s own SRP (server relay protocol) network.

This was followed by BlackBerry users in North America suffering two major service failures in a week in December 2009. The second lasted more than eight hours and reportedly affected 100 percent of RIM’s customers in North America.

Last month, RIM’s financial results revealed that weak sales have resulted in a sharp drop in income. Pre-tax income fell a massive 54 percent to $414 million (£262m) from $904 million (£572m) compared to the previous quarter, and revenues dropped to $4.2 billion (£2.7bn), only just achieving the bottom end of the company’s targets.

It is widely thought that failure to meet these targets will mean curtains for RIM’s under-fire management team and analysts quickly called the forecasts for Q3 into doubt.

‘Nail in the coffin’

“This report is another nail in the coffin of management,” Edward Snyder at Charter Equity Research told the Guardian at the time. “I don’t think anybody believes their guidance. Management’s credibility is at an all-time low. We’re well past the point [where] these guys should be replaced.”

Despite the bad press, however, RIM has recently unveiled an updated line of BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 7 OS, the company’s latest update of its longtime operating system.

One of those new devices, the BlackBerry Torch 9850, (9860 for CDMA users mainly in the US) tries to take RIM’s competitors at their own hardware game, by embracing a touch screen-only design. Read eWEEK’s review here.

Sophie Curtis contributed to this report.

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