BlackBerry service 'back to normal'

... but have millions of customers been put off? After all, it was already lagging behind in the war of the smartphones...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 30 May 2012
Who knew Slough could be so pivotal to the welfare of global businesses? Research In Motion, the parent company of BlackBerry, says services have ‘improved significantly’ after a three-day outage at its Slough data centre which left millions of its customers unable to access email or web services from their smartphones. It’s clearly not good news for the company, which has been losing the market share to rivals like Apple and Samsung – although their attentions may well be distracted by increasingly bitter bickering.  

The problem with RIM is that rather than using public data networks like everyone else, it has its own private data centres. Which is all well and good when you fancy organising a riot – but not so much when you’ve got a faulty switch. ‘Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested,’ (whatever that means) said David Yach, the firm’s vice president of software.

There was a bit of confusion after the company said on Tuesday that services were back to normal – prompting thousands of angry tweets that that wasn’t the case at all. Not long after, RIM sheepishly admitted that there were still problems, caused by a ‘backlog… as you can imagine… there’s a lot of messages to Europe from Asia and the Americas,’ said Yach. Yeesh.

The problem could be more complicated than that. On Monday, a (nameless) former RIM employee pointed out that the company had spent the last few years concentrating more on coming up with jazzy new devices to keep up with its competitors, and less on making sure it had the infrastructure to support them. ‘They didn’t start looking at scalability until about 2007, when they had around 8m active devices. The attitude was, "we’re going to grow and grow but making sure our infrastructure can support it isn’t a priority",’ he/she said. And given BlackBerry has already begun to lag behind in the war of the smartphones, this isn’t good news at all.

Mind you, BlackBerry might have lost this battle – but it could still end up winning the war, by virtue of the fact that it’s the last one standing after all its rivals destroyed each other. Samsung and Apple are, after all, busily engaged in a game of one-upmanship which is threatening to derail both companies.

The latest in the ongoing saga between the two, which has seen the pair suing and counter-suing one another over alleged copyright infringement, is that Apple has managed to persuade Australian courts to ban the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 – temporarily, at least – on the grounds that Samsung copied its touchscreen technology. Samsung has, apparently, now declared ‘all-out war’ on Apple. So perhaps all Blackberry has to do is sit tight while its rivals destroy each other….

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