RIM CEO apologizes for short messaging disruption Friday in Europe and Africa

Full analysis and report on cause promised

Research in Motion (RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins said that as many as 6% of BlackBerry customers in Europe and Africa may have seen up to a three-hour delay in getting and sending messages early Friday.

Heins released a statement about 11:30 a.m. ET apologizing twice to the customers affected. He also promised a full technical analysis of what happened, with a report to follow. RIM reported that the problems had stopped several hours earlier.

No data or messages were lost, Heins added. "I want to apologize to those BlackBerry customers in Europe and Africa who experienced an impact in their quality of service earlier this morning," he said in a message posted on RIM's UK Web site.

Some news reports in the UK said thousands of customers were affected with problems sending and receiving email and Blackberry Messenger instant messages. BBM is very popular in Europe and Africa, according to analysts.

The disruption occurred about a year after RIM experienced severe outages on several continents for several days, including in North America. After that outage, RIM posted videos and text updates from its executives explaining and apologizing for the delay. In subsequent months, RIM underwent a massive executive turnover; Heins assumed his position earlier this year.

Some corporate customers in the U.S. have cited outages and service delays as a chief concern with RIM and a reason to move to other smartphone platforms and networks. However, most analysts say the company's financial problems stem mainly from not shipping new smartphones fast enough.

RIM is promising a next-generation touchscreen smartphone based on the BlackBerry 10 OS early next year.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

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