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BlackBerry bleep remains silent

12 October 2011, 17:22

Johannesburg - The distinctive Blackberry messenger bleep remained mute for most of Wednesday morning.

A tweet from Blackerry said a core switch failure was behind the popular messaging devices' silencing.

"Message delays were caused by a core switch failure in Research In Motion's infrastructure. Now being resolved. Sorry for inconvenience," the brief message on Twitter read.

According to reports, the failure affected the service's Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina services.


"It's the worst nightmare situation. The initial system failed and the back-up failed," Mvelase Peppetta, staff writer for technology analysts Memeburn explained.

But, said Peppetta: "They are slowly but surely bringing back services."

The outage cut around two million users in South Africa from their Facebook, internet and e-mail connections, in addition to the popular free messaging service.

The phone dialling and SMS services remained active.

The system crashed on Monday, but was later restored, only to falter again on Tuesday afternoon.

Peppetta said many once-loyal Blackberry users, like himself, were seriously considering moving to phones with other operating systems.

"It been very much of a lesson on how much South Africans rely on mobiles to access the internet."

Arthur Goldstuck, head of technology researchers World Wide Worx described the past few days as "a wake up call about being dependent on one device or service for connectivity.

"When we are dependent on the internet, any outage can have a major impact on work and social life. And when it's a long outage, it's going to have a major impact."


Blackberry accounted for about 70% of the smartphones in South Africa, with Samsung and Nokia trailing, he said.

But, for Goldstuck, the biggest issue with the outage was Blackberry's failure to tell its users what was happening.

"It's become a de facto standard and with a user base of that size, you simply cannot mess around with it," he said.

Blackberry and Research in Motion (RIM), the companies that operate the systems, failed in not being available and only issuing "the briefest" of statements on their problems.

He compared this with a Vodacom outage in South Africa this year, where the company CEO Pieter Uys was on the front-line keeping users updated and commenting on the emergency repairs they had to carry out.

Goldstuck did not hold the local management of Blackberry responsible, saying it was under strict control of the United Kingdom office.

Goldstuck predicted the crisis would probably spell the end of the company's leadership, which had been pressured to change for some time.



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