BlackBerry Outage Strikes EMEA On iPhone 5 Launch Day: Ouch — That’s Gotta Hurt (Updated)

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A network outage has struck BlackBerry users in Europe and Africa this morning — on, irony of ironies, iPhone 5 launch day — affecting BBM, email and internet but not voice or text.  Fall is a troublesome season for the company which experienced the largest outage in its network’s history last October, causing then co-CEO Mike Lazaridis to appear on YouTube in person to present an excruciating autocue apology for letting customers down.

RIM confirmed the outage in a tweet this morning, noting: “Some users in Europe, Middle East & Africa are experiencing issues with their BlackBerry service”. A follow up tweet added: “We are investigating and apologise for any inconvenience.”

At the time of writing RIM was unable to provide specific details of the cause of the outage, which TechCrunch understands is still ongoing, or details of how many BlackBerry users are affected. Last year’s week-long worldwide BlackBerry network outage was initially caused by the failure of a core switch at a UK datacenter which in turn triggered a wider “cascade failure” — as then co-CEO Lazaridis put it — with backlogs of data building up in EMEA and overloading RIM’s systems in other regions.

“We are currently experiencing a BlackBerry service issue impacting some users in Europe, Middle East & Africa. All relevant support teams are working to resolve the issue. We apologize to any customers who may be affected,” RIM said in a statement on the current outage.

U.K. newspaper, The Telegraph, reported the outage as affecting only Vodafone customers — but the carrier was unable to confirm this.

Vodafone did confirm the outage started around 6AM (BST). It also provided the following statement:  “We are aware that some customers are experiencing problems using BlackBerry services such as email, internet and BBM in Europe, Middle East and Africa.  RIM are working on fixing this as a priority and we are in regular communication with them.  We expect updates shortly.”

After last year’s network blackout RIM said it would be performing “root cause analysis” to determine why its back-up didn’t perform as expected, and auditing its network infrastructure to find out why it took so long to recover.

Developing…

Update: A spokeswoman for RIM has told TechCrunch that BlackBerry services have been restored — and provided the following statement: “Our apologies to any customers impacted by the BlackBerry service issue today. We can confirm that services have been restored and are now operating normally.”

Update: RIM CEO and President, Thorsten Heins, has now issued the following statement — including details on the scope of the outage: “I want to apologize to those BlackBerry customers in Europe and Africa who experienced an impact in their quality of service earlier this morning. The BlackBerry service is now fully restored and I can report that no data or messages were lost. Up to 6 per cent of our user base may have been impacted. Preliminary analysis suggests that those customers may have experienced a maximum delay of 3 hours in the delivery and reception of their messages. We are conducting a full technical analysis of this quality of service issue and will report as soon as it concludes. I again want to apologize to those customers who were impacted today.”