Blackberry services now restored as phone set problems is laid to rest

Blackberry Phone

The founder and co-CEO of Research in Motion said that full service had been restored in a conference call on Thursday.

‘All of the services are back up globally,’ said Mike Lazaridis.

It came just hours after a downbeat video message – itself a rare appearance from Lazaridis – appeared to say the exact opposite.

‘I’d like to give you an estimated time of full recovery around the world, but I cannot do this with certainty at this time,’ he said.

‘For those of you affected I know this is very frustrating. We’re doing everything in our power to restore regular service levels and we’re working tirelessly to restore your trust in us.’

‘I apologize for the outages this week. We’ve let many of you down.’

He went on to say that service levels had been restored in many territories. His comments were mirrored by users around the world, as many reported today that emails were now working, and that BlackBerry Messenger was back online.

But users are now demanding compensation for three days cut off from BlackBerry services.

Research in Motion (RIM) – the company behind the smartphone – has made no comment as to whether it might offer compensation to users.

The company has faced widespread criticism for its handling of the crisis, in particular its infrequent communications with customers.

The financial future of the company could now be in doubt. BlackBerry shares are still down on today’s trading.

Even before this week’s disaster, and RIM’s inept PR reaction, the board was already under pressure from some shareholders to get rid of the co-chief executives – Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis – and break up the group with an eye to selling off to private equity.

Activist investor Jaguar Financial Corporation, which claims to speak for 12 of the group’s 20 largest shareholders and 8% of its stock holders, claims that private equity would pay up to $16bn (£10bn) for the firm, a $3bn premium on RIM’s current market capitalisation.

As RIM battled this week’s outage, which affected many of its 70 million users, Jaguar stepped up its campaign.

Some investors have voiced their disquiet with the handling of this week's crisis - and suggested that the company should be broken up or soldSome investors have voiced their disquiet with the handling of this week’s crisis – and suggested that the company should be broken up or sold

RIM’s revenues have been in rapid decline from their $5.6bn peak since February, when its shares were worth $70 a piece. They are now trading at just under $25. The company has lost nearly two thirds of its value in eight months.

Profits collapsed over the summer as RIM failed to produce new models, saw its tablet computer flop and generally lost out to the iPhone and Android mobiles.

‘Their time as builders is over,’ Vic Alboini, Jaguar’s chairman and chief executive, said last night. ‘Management has failed to appreciate RIM’s competitive environment, which largely explains RIM’s declining market presence and dramatically reduced share price. RIM has become a reactionary company trying to compete in an innovative industry.’

Alboini wants to call a shareholders’ meeting to force a board change and change strategy. He believes RIM could be broken up into a network company, a handset maker and a patent company.


Research in Motion's (RIM) UK managing director, Stephen Bates speaks to media outside the headquarters of RIM in Slough, where the glitch reportedly originatedResearch in Motion’s (RIM) UK managing director, Stephen Bates speaks outside the headquarters of RIM in Slough, where the glitch reportedly originated..

Apologising for interruptions and delays, RIM’s chief information officer Robin Bienfait said on the company’s website: ‘You’ve depended on us for reliable, real-time communications, and right now we’re letting you down.

‘We believe we understand why this happened and we are working to restore normal service levels in all markets as quickly as we can.’

In a later posting, the company insisted there was ‘a significant increase in service levels’ in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, and that service was ‘progressing well’ in the US, Canada and Latin America, despite some continued delays.

It remains unclear how many of the 70million BlackBerry subscribers have been affected by the outage, but many have vented their frustrations on Twitter.

Lord Sugar, who founded the electronics company Amstrad in 1968, left a string of postings on the micro-blogging site, eventually insisting: ‘If it was my company, it would have been fixed by now.’

Problems with BlackBerry services started at around 11am on Monday.


Piers Morgan was another famous face to be hit by the technical glitch.
‘One positive of the £Blackberry crisis – my personal trainer can’t get hold of me,’ he wrote on Twitter.

The initial software issue was reportedly caused at the company’s UK hub in Slough.

Lord Sugar said: ‘If the BB server fault is in Slough they need Ricky Gervais to sort it’ – a reference to the comedian whose hit sitcom The Office was set in the Berkshire town.

In a press conference last night, RIM’s chief technology officer David Yach confirmed the initial switch failure happened at one of the company’s European sites.

The CTO dismissed rumours that hacking or a security breach could have caused the glitch.

‘We’ve seen no evidence that this is the case,’ he added. 

This week’s crash was summed up in a joke doing the rounds on the same website: ‘What did one BBM user say to the other? Nothing.’ 

After the initial disruption on Monday, RIM indicated that it had solved the problem on Tuesday morning.

But it was later forced to admit it was experiencing a ‘service’ issue affecting users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Latin America.

The embarrassing failure has the potential to hit RIM’s profits as there is a danger that BlackBerry users will switch to rival smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone or the wide range of Android devices. 

A statement apparently designed to placate customers left most people baffled. The company said ‘messaging and browsing delays?.?.?. were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure’.

It added: ‘Although the system is designed to failover [sic] to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.’ 

Slough’s starring role in the failure will do little to endear it to BlackBerry users.

As the crisis continues, they might sympathise with the sentiments of Sir John Betjeman’s 1937 poem Slough, which opened with the line: ‘Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough.’