Wasn’t it just last year that RIM (Research In Motion), BlackBerry’s maker, suffered a technical failure that brought the system down for more than ten hours? Well, it happened again yesterday to about 4 million U.S. and Canadian customers, idling thumbs across North America for fewer hours, but with no less pain. In the end, it was a new software installation (an upgrade that was designed to accelerate e-mail processing) that was the culprit in the RIM systems.
Representatives of several North American carriers said they were told by Research In Motion that a significant failure had occurred somewhere in the servers it operates to connect the popular hand-held devices with the Internet. The carriers were told that all operators in North America were affected, though not all customers.
Estimates suggest that about half of RIM’s customers were affected. Officials at Sprint/Nextel told the companyâ€™s technical staff that the unspecified trouble began about 3:20 p.m. Eastern time. The problem was found and fixed somewhere around 6:35 PM Eastern time, leaving a three-hour backlog of messages.
RIM was silent until about 8PM when it announced that the system was functional. And that the significant backlog of messages had been cleared. The company sent a brief statement by e-mail earlier in the evening acknowledging the disruption but offering no details. There are about 12 million BlackBerry users, about 8 million of them in North America.
While some may have welcomed a temporary respite from e-mail, many people, particularly in the financial industry, use the devices to perform time-sensitive transactions. They are also popular communications tools for emergency personnel. The lapse in BlackBerry service is another embarrassment for a company that has long emphasized reliability and security as selling points for its premium-priced variety of wireless e-mail.
There are about 12 million BlackBerry users, about 8 million of them in North America.