1.5m SA BlackBerry users affected
Johannesburg - The lack of access to BlackBerry services has had a major impact on business users who depended on Research In Motion (RIM) as a provider for e-mail, instant messaging and internet access, growth partnership company, Frost & Sullivan said on Wednesday.
Senior research analyst for ICT practice at F&S, Vitalis Ozianyi said: "The impact has been felt by users who rely on the service for business and social communication.
"In SA alone, more than 1.5 million users of the services are likely to have been affected.
"The main impact of the failure to Research In Motion is likely to be felt if potential new users opt for alternative devices and services in the market".
The failure of a backup switch was the major cause of BlackBerry users' being cut off from their e-mail and messaging services, a statement issued by RIM late on Tuesday said.
The crash of the BlackBerry e-mail and BlackBerry messenger services began on Monday.
The statement, the first indication of what caused the communications blackout, said: "The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure.
Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.
"As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible," it said.
The three-day disruption to services spread to North America as well on Wednesday.
Ozianyi said it was clear that RIM lacked reliable failover mechanisms to backup switching systems. This was bound to happen if RIM did not have a cluster of systems to manage global communications.
F&S noted that users of the services did not have an immediate alternative option. It added that it was not possible for users to take up alternative devices and providers offering similar services to BlackBerry, without losing communication with established BlackBerry contacts.
This especially applied to the BlackBerry instant messaging service.
"The positive outcome of the failure of BlackBerry service to the industry is the possibility of opening discussions on inter-operability between instant messaging services offered on different platforms and providers," the advisory firm said.
"The solution to the problem would be immediate restoration of services to allow delivery of queued messages to users", concluded Ozianyi, "RIM needs to expedite this to avoid further user inconvenience and potential churn."