BlackBerry Outage Felt Across N. America
Research in Motion confirmed the outage Wednesday morning, but disclosed no details about the cause.
(New York) Most of it happened outside "work" hours, but the nature of
mobile e-mail meant plenty of dismay as BlackBerry service went down across
North America from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning.
By the time the service sputtered back to life, jamming the handheld
devices with a torrent of delayed messages, grumbles had been heard at
the highest levels of business and government.
"The sound of BlackBerries being thrown against the desk was deafening
for a while," said Garth Turner, a member of the Canadian Parliament
known for his constant Internet blogging.
"Because it has become the de facto channel of communications around
this place, it actually impacts on the government of Canada and the work
of the whole House of Commons."
BlackBerry was also the first order of business at a White House Press
briefing Wednesday morning.
"I apologize to a number of you who tried e-mailing over the last
14 hours," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters.
"We're 14 hours into no BlackBerry, so you can imagine how things
are," he said. "We've already started a 12-step group."
Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that provides the devices
and e-mail service, confirmed the outage Wednesday morning, but disclosed
no details about the cause.
The outage cut off incoming and outgoing e-mail on BlackBerry devices
regardless of which cellular company a user buys the service from, indicating
the problem originated at RIM's network data center in Canada.
That facility serves as a hub for RIM's North American traffic, routing
messages between the roughly 8 million BlackBerry devices now in use and
the various sources of e-mail, from private corporate servers to Web-based
accounts like Yahoo and AOL.
The outage reverberated on Wall Street, too. RIM's share price slid at
Wednesday's open, but recovered and rallied -- suggesting, perhaps, that
a product that can provoke this much consternation holds an enviable position
against emerging challenges from the likes of Microsoft Corp., Motorola
Inc. and Nokia Corp.
The stock rose $3.10, or 2.4 percent, to close at $134.37 in Wednesday
trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market despite falling as low as $128.80 in
the opening minutes.
BlackBerry outages have been rare, although minor glitches occasionally
cause delays in RIM's ability to deliver e-mail in real-time -- perhaps
the most important feature of the service for many users. The last two
major disruptions appear to have occurred nearly two years ago, both in
Nevertheless, even one outage is unbearable for some. While many people
rely heavily on the device as a lifeline when they're away from their
computers, even more have simply grown accustomed, occasionally obsessive,
about being able to check their e-mail at night and on weekends.
"It's been most inconvenient," said Dacrie Brooks, a public
relations professional attending the annual convention of the National
Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. "I've been using (my BlackBerry)
for all my communications because I don't have access to my laptop between
"It's been a challenging day because I'm missing things left and
right. That's not fun."
The outage also was mentioned Wednesday morning during a conference call
with the chief financial officer of JPMorgan, Michael J. Cavanagh, to
discuss the bank's quarterly earnings, with the CFO noting that his device
was still on the blink.
Other users shrugged at the disruption.
"My life wasn't affected in any serious way by the outage,"
said Dimitri Vorontzov, a courtship instructor for the personal coaching
service Charisma Arts, noting that he's usually near a computer to fetch
his e-mail anyway. "If you didn't tell me, I wouldn't have really