The National (Abu Dhabi)
July 6, 2012
A dire stretch for the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone was topped off Monday as Research In Motion (RIM) conceded its ongoing service disruptions could continue to plague customers.
The service difficulties struck the Etisalat and du networks, although there were no reports of voice calls being affected. The issues first arose Saturday, just two days after the smartphone maker reported worse-than-expected earnings. RIM said it would cut 5,000 jobs and delay the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 platform.
“We experienced a service issue which may have affected some of our customers in certain parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” said Sandeep Saihgal, the managing director of RIM Middle East. “Some minor issues relating to browsing and BlackBerry Messenger … may still persist, but all other services are operating as normal. We apologize to any customers in these regions who may have been inconvenienced.”
RIM’s share price plummeted 20% in New York trading following its results and jobs announcement last week. The cuts represent about 30% of RIM’s workforce of about 16,500.
The company reported a net loss of $518 million for its first quarter, and revenue collapsed 43% to $2.8 billion compared with the same period a year earlier. Its shares have fallen nearly 50% on the Nasdaq this year while facing fierce competition from Samsung and Apple, both of which are launching new handsets this year.
Du said in a statement last night the disruption over the weekend was caused by “technical challenges” reported by RIM. The statement continued: “We would like to inform our BlackBerry users that they might have experienced degradation in their BlackBerry services due to technical challenges as reported by RIM. Degradation might include delays in sending or receiving messages or using other services such as BlackBerry Messenger.
“Customers may also be unable to create new accounts, add (integrate) third-party email accounts or use BlackBerry subscriber websites. BlackBerry enterprise servers may be unable to connect to the BlackBerry infrastructure. Wireless service providers and device resellers may experience delays in using BlackBerry administration websites, creating subscriber accounts or provisioning services for subscribers.”
Du said its technical team was working with RIM to resolve the matter as soon as possible and apologized to customers for the inconvenience caused.
“I’ve been talking to some of my friends who have du and some who have Etisalat, and they were both down for quite a few hours yesterday,” said Fatma Al Bannai, an Emirati BlackBerry user from Dubai who works in IT quality control.
“They weren’t receiving any messages on BBM, and their emails were not coming in—basically, the service wasn’t functioning. I called Etisalat, and there was an automatic message saying they had been experiencing some problems. I believe it was a nationwide issue that lasted until the early hours of the morning. There was no prior warning.”
She said she was disappointed RIM had not issued a statement when the problems first emerged. “At first, I didn’t know if it was just my phone or if it was everyone else, so if they’d issued a statement, we would have known that the whole country didn’t have the service.”
The disruption is the latest in a series of problems to hit RIM. Last October, BlackBerry services in the United Arab Emirates went down for several days because of equipment failure that affected millions of users around the world. Some users complained about the latest disruption on Twitter, although here was no mention of the problem on RIM’s official Twitter page
A Dubai resident said, “RIM just keeps digging its own hole. Another disruption of BlackBerry services in UAE. Which number is that? Too many disruptions to count if you ask me.”
Al Bannai said she was becoming fed up with BlackBerry because of the network problems but would not switch to another brand of smartphone because all her friends used the RIM messaging network. “I really have no choice because if I don’t have a BlackBerry, basically I’m putting an end to my social life,” she added.
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