BlackBerry users are owed an explanation – by Christopher Williams (The Telegraph – October 13, 2011)

A lesson for the mining sector? – Stan Sudol

As Apple launches iCloud, its rival RIM, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, is providing a disastrous exposition of the potential pitfalls of providing online services. As I write, millions of BlackBerry users have been unable to access the internet since Monday morning, excepting an all-too-brief revival on Tuesday.

The blackout has fallen on Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as some South American countries and India. A RIM data centre in Slough is thought, but not admitted, to be the source.

So adding to users’ frustration, after more than 48 hours without email, web or instant messenger, RIM is yet to properly explain what has happened or why it is taking so long to fix.

The only statement from the firm by way of explanation blamed Tuesday’s failure of “a core switch” and backup systems within its infrastructure. The root cause remains unclear, however, even to the major mobile operators that normally expect to be kept in the loop.

It’s hard to over-emphasise how bad the firm has been at keeping ordinary users informed. I have covered dozens of similar internet outages over the last six years as a technology journalist, and have never known any company – let alone a worldwide brand with more than 70 million users – fail so comprehensively over such a long period.

It didn’t even admit there was a problem for around four hours on Monday. At an industry event on Tuesday evening, RIM’s UK managing director Stephen Bates said only that “we are working night and day to solve the outage”. Users would expect no less, of course – what they require is an explanation.

Both the outage itself and the inadequate public response do not bode well for RIM.

The BlackBerry brand, launched back in 1999, was built on reliability, security and professionalism.

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