RIM CEO Apologizes For Yet Another Outage, Up To 4.7M BlackBerry Users Affected

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Thorsten Heins, RIM’s President and CEO, has put out a statement apologizing for the network outage that struck BlackBerry users in Europe and Africa this morning.

Heins revealed the service outage lasted up to three hours and that up to six percent of the company’s user base was affected — meaning up to 4.7 million BlackBerry users were unable to BBM their buddies this morning.

Here’s the statement in full

“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.”

The service outage did not affect voice calls or text messages but took down BBM, email and Internet access. Heins’ statement does not give any details on the cause of the outage — presumably because RIM is still investigating. A RIM spokeswoman told me: “We are currently conducting a full technical analysis of this quality of service issue.”

Last October the BlackBerry network suffered a major outage that took the network for almost a week. The cause was traced to a switch failure in a UK datacenter causing a cascade of failures as a backlog of undelivered messages accrued — which in turn caused the system slow-down to spread further afield than the EMEA region.

At the time RIM pledged to audit its network, and then Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis apologized to customers in a YouTube video. RIM was also criticized for failing to promptly communicate last year’s outage to BlackBerry users. New CEO Heins appears to have learnt some of the 2011 outage’s lessons by putting out a quasi-detailed statement within hours of the outage — albeit without an explanation of the cause.

The timing of the outage is doubly unfortunate — both because it’s approaching the one-year anniversary of last year’s BlackBerry outage and because today is the day Apple’s latest iPhone goes on sale.

In recent years RIM has been unable to match the growth of rival mobile OSes, iOS and Android.

In its Q1 financial report for fiscal 2013, filed back in June, RIM reported revenue of $2.8bn, down 33 per cent from the previous quarter — and down 43 per cent on its first fiscal quarter of 2012, while the total BlackBerry subscriber base was reported as over 78 million as of the end of Q1 fiscal 2013.