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Outages Hit BlackBerry-Maker RIM in Europe, Mid-East
By Jennifer LeClaire
Posted: September 21, 2012 1:50pm PDT

Despite all the publicity about the unreliability of the RIM network, said analyst Rob Enderle, as long as outages are fixed in a fairly short period of time consumers will not jump ship. "RIM has survived in years largely because they are down to their very loyalist customers, which are probably the most tolerant of the bunch," Enderle said.

Research In Motion doesn't need another outage black eye. But that's just what the BlackBerry-maker got this week as it suffered service disruptions in Europe.

"Some users in Europe, Middle East and Africa are experiencing issues with their BlackBerry service," the company said in a post to its Twitter account Friday morning.

The disruptions have since been fixed, but not before some users in Europe, Africa and the Middle East went without e-mail and Internet access.

RIM's response: "Our apologies to any customers impacted by the BlackBerry service issue. We can confirm that services have been restored and are now operating normally." An apology may not cut it, though, especially without any explanation as to why the service blinked.

The outage presumably contributed to RIM stock prices falling 4.2 percent in Thursday trading, dipping to $6.91 per share. RIM stock has taken a 52 percent hit in 2012 as pressure from Android and Apple, as well as missteps with the introduction of its new operating system, upset analysts.

History of Outages

RIM has a consistent history of outages. About a year ago, more than 10 million BlackBerry users in Europe and other regions went without service for several days. The BlackBerry outage then spread like a virus to the United States and Canada before RIM finally grabbed hold of the issue.

That widespread outage led to consumer lawsuits against RIM, which then started offering free apps in hopes of appeasing its shrinking user base. RIM also saw BlackBerry outages in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

This time around, the BlackBerry outage coincides with the launch of Apple's iPhone 5, marking a stark contrast with the failures of RIM and the success of Apple. RIM also suffered outages when the iPhone 4S was launched about a year ago.

Jumping Ship?

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his insights into what the latest service outage means for RIM. Will BlackBerry users grow weary of the outages and leap to the new generation of Windows Phone 8 devices coming to market? Or stick it out in hopes that RIM can get it right? Would new leadership help?

"A lot of the folks that could be replaced have been replaced. We are pretty much down to those folks that can't change and are tied to contracts at RIM," Enderle said. "The folks in place now are probably going to have to ride through this kind of problem."

Despite all the publicity about the unreliability of the RIM network, Enderle said, as long as outages are fixed in a fairly short period of time -- which was the case with Friday's issues -- consumers will not jump ship.

"RIM has survived in years largely because they are down to their very loyalist customers, which are probably the most tolerant of the bunch," Enderle said.

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