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RIM's BlackBerry data service has its second major outage

One of the most popular smartphones for business people is the BlackBerry. The device is also dubbed the “CrackBerry” by some users because for many life without the device is difficult.

Monday, BlackBerry users began to report that the BlackBerry data service provided by Research in Motion (RIM) was down. According to InformationWeek, users of the BlackBerry service reported problems sending and receiving email and documents.

An AT&T spokesperson says that AT&T learned of the outages at about 3:30 p.m. eastern time and that the problem was not with the AT&T network or other wireless networks. The problem was with the RIM-supplied data service.

An email message was sent to large BlackBerry customers from RIM calling the problem a, “current BlackBerry infrastructure outage.” The outage was only on the Americas network according to RIM.

This wass the second outage of the BlackBerry service. DailyTech reported in April of 2007 about the massive outage that left many BlackBerry users without serviceReuters quotes Carmi Levy, senior vice-president of strategic consulting at AR Communications as saying, “service reliability is a serious concern for companies like RIM, because if problems become routine, they can turn customers and prospective buyers away.” Levy described the outages as “a major Achilles heel” for RIM.

RIM announced today that the service outage lasted for three hours and was caused by a system upgrade that was performed to increase the overall capacity of BlackBerry email and data services. According to RIM these upgrades are done regularly and similar upgrades have been done in the past without any issues.

InformationWeek reports RIM issued a written statement on the outage, “RIM's early investigation of the service interruption that occurred on Monday points to a problem with an internal data routing system within the BlackBerry service infrastructure that had been recently upgraded. The upgrade was part of RIM's routine and ongoing efforts to increase overall capacity for longer term growth.”



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Longer Term Shrinkage
By bldckstark on 2/13/2008 4:29:10 PM , Rating: 4
It's more likely they will cause longer term shrinkage than growth if they keep dropping service like this.

Don't they have a backup service of some sorts?

This is the same reason that IBM should not be the only internet server.




RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By amanojaku on 2/13/2008 4:34:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
One of the most popular smartphones for business people is the BlackBerry. The device is also dubbed the “CrackBerry” by some users because for many life without the device is difficult.


Read that quote again. Blackberry users are pissed, but not enough to drop the service. It was back up within the day, and most people have alternate methods of getting mail. I agree that the service should be better, but it could be a lot worse. And when you consider that the largest number of customers come from corporations you can be sure RIM won't be loosing any significant business anytime soon. Businesses don't have the agility of the single user to move to another unproven service.


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By MatthiasF on 2/13/2008 5:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
I have a BlackBerry. Service was down for only an hour and I got four annoying calls during that period expecting me to fix it.

RIM has to decentralize and stop being control freaks.


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By Mitch101 on 2/13/2008 5:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
Dont you love that. Its a wireless device yet clients act as if they had a tethered connection into the office.

I give them the scenario of have you ever driven down the road with your cell phone and all of a sudden it says missed call but the phone was with you the whole time? They seem to get a better grasp after you tell them that.


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By Hare on 2/14/2008 12:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
Why should the customer care if the device is wireless or not? This problem had nothing to do with the service being used on a mobile device e.g. connection problem. This was a problem with the service providers hardware/software (again!).

I don't really follow your logic. Just because a device is wireless it should be considered unreliable and every problem should be forgiven because after all, it's a mobile device? I don't think so...


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/13/2008 9:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
Same here. I got several calls and PIN messages from people wanting to know if I knew why their Crackberries weren't working. I told them mine wasn't either and we were looking into it. We didn't find out until the Media broke the news, GG RIM & Providers for informing everyone else.


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By Samus on 2/14/2008 4:47:26 AM , Rating: 2
I work IT too and I think there should be a 'mailing list' we can sign up for as professionals that gives us detailed information on when RIM plans to do upgrades that could potentially cause the system to fail, even if for minutes. I have clients that receive hundreds of email a day on their phones and claim they need every single one.

If I could give them a heads up that it might not work during a certain period, they'd probably resort to using their computer for the interim.


By Master Kenobi (blog) on 2/14/2008 8:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yea. Microsoft, HP, Dell, and other companies provide a means to do this sort of thing when they do updates to their products. Shame RIM does not yet.


RE: Longer Term Shrinkage
By Mitch101 on 2/13/2008 5:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon/Service carries causes many more outages than RIM.

Except other carriers wont deny deny deny like Verizon does.


Why did Blackberry become popular in the 1st place?
By ninjit on 2/13/2008 5:36:47 PM , Rating: 1
From what I've read, their main "innovation" was to push email onto mobile devices, and even then it wasn't a real innovation because people in asia have been used to that sort of service for quite some time now.

Additionally, you can accomplish pretty much the same thing through the IMAP protocol - mobile device uses an IDLE command as a heartbeat to let the server know where it is and that it's on, and the server sends out notifications whenever new messages come in.

In fact a mobile IMAP system seems to be more seemless and efficient, since items that are read, sent, flagged etc. on the mobile device are automatically shown as such on desktops (and any other connected client) for that email client. And IMAP already has features in place to limit notifications to message headers only (if wanted), and the user can then grab the whole message if they really want to.

Yet RIM has made a killing selling the Blackberry Enterprise Server to businesses to perform all this synchronization stuff (what users see is still a COPY of their mailbox on their devices), when IMAP would have covered all those bases anyway??




By GreenEnvt on 2/13/2008 9:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
Or exchange for that matter, a much better system for getting mail to clients then blackberry in my opinion. Exchange mailbox will also update what is read, calender, etc..


By robinthakur on 2/14/2008 4:50:16 AM , Rating: 1
Well, I've used both and have to say the Blackberry devices and push system are much more reliable. I'm sure it shouldn't be this way in theory, but it is :) There's a reason for their success. To coin an Apple phrase, it just works, seamlessly without all the annoying OS quirks of Windows Mobile that makes everything take 3 times as long to do.


By Ryvist on 2/14/2008 10:28:11 AM , Rating: 2
You forget some key tenants of why business choose them don't always translate to the pro-sumer/consumer.

Security. The devices can be remotely wiped/killed or locked out of a corporate system reliably and quickly making a found device unusable. They are also use AES end to end.

Compression. The devices send and receive e-mail on a battery that lasts days (or weeks for the lighter user.) The compression used to send and receive e-mail and data must be bidirectional so the RIM NOC ensures that requests made for websites and such are compressed ahead of time and not drain the battery out of the device. This is also true for calendar entry's, meeting requests, attachments, etc.

Single point of connection. Data services & e-mail all flow through one point. Yes, it also makes it a single point of failure also. However, try and open e-mail and applications using exchange in a corporate environment, and you have to poke a dozen holes in your firewall, per user. Simplicity is the word.

I never understood the appeal 'till I got one myself. I'll never go back.


By jimbojimbo on 2/14/2008 12:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
I have both but prefer my Windows Mobile device. Since I administer the servers it connects to as well I know exactly what's going on with it. Besides I've always found the Blackberry screens too small compared to my touch screen Wing for reading books and such.

I admit though the Blackberry's battery life kicks the hell out of the Wing's battery life and it even weighs a whole lot less. Oh well.

When the Blackberry came out it was extremely innovative and at the time it was the only way to get your email right away. Most businesses have come to rely on them although Microsoft has, in my opinion, caught up with them both in terms of speed and security. People have been using the Blackberry for years now and change isn't always welcome.

You would think, like everybody else in IT, that the RIM guys would try to do their upgrades on a weekend night or something instead of Monday, generally the busiest day for emails.


By jimbojimbo on 2/14/2008 12:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
IMAP is fine for mail but it won't synch contacts or the calendar. That's why people have been nagging at Apple to do something with the iPhone besides having just IMAP on it. Once they do I've a feeling a lot of the big wigs here are all going to want an iPhone right away. You would think Apple would want that.


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