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October 17, 2011

BlackBerry Engages in Mea Culpas After Four-Day Outage

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

BlackBerry (News - Alert) maker Research In Motion isn't starting the week well. Its stock has dropped more than five percent as a result of last week's global BlackBerry outage. This is after the company attempted to make it up to cheesed off users by offering free apps and technical support as a way of saying “We're sorry.”

Last week, tens of millions of BlackBerry users on five continents were stuck without mobile e-mail and other messaging for up to four days. The glitch has been attributed to a failure at a RIM data center in England.

RIM co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie told Reuters (News - Alert) the company wanted to make amends with customers. “This is our way of expressing appreciation for their patience during the recent service disruptions and a tangible way of telling them how deeply grateful we are for their continued business,” said Balsillie.

To try and take the sting out of the long outages, the Canadian company is offering premium apps worth more than $100 to customers and a month of technical support for businesses free of charge, says Reuters. It's an attempt to hold back the tide of customer defections from a company that is already on shaky footing.

In response to the incident, industry analysts said that the company needs to get busy with damage control, as many users are questioning the platform's reliability now. But it also needs to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

“RIM has responded swiftly but this won't undo the damage done to its reputation,” analyst Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight (News - Alert) told Reuters today. “This may go some way to appeasing customers but what's critical is that the problem does not repeat itself.”

Analysts aren't sure BlackBerry's after-the-fact largesse will really get it anywhere. The company's stock has lost more than 60 percent of its value since the beginning of 2011, and it continues to lose market share to both Apple (News - Alert) and its iPhone and Google and its Android mobile platform.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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