Global BlackBerry outages as iPhone 5 launches

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) today suffered significant outages across Africa, Europe and the Middle East coinciding with Apple’s iPhone 5 serial launches in Asia, Europe and North America.

The problem has since been fixed, with RIM apologising to customers but not confirming the reasons for the outage.

Only Vodafone customers were affected, experiencing difficulties with BlackBerry Messenger, email and internet from 8am (BST). BlackBerry earlier tweeted: “Some users in Europe, Middle East and Africa are experiencing issues with their BlackBerry service”, before following up with another tweet an hour later: “We are investigating and apologise for any inconvenience”.

Vodafone confirmed the problems. “We are aware that some customers are experiencing problems using BlackBerry services such as email, internet and BBM in Europe, Middle East and Africa. RIM are working on fixing this as a priority and we are in regular communication with them. We expect updates shortly,” the company said in a statement.

Though the outage was not as damaging as one experienced by customers last year, when the service was offline for several days and affected millions of people, the outage could not have come at a worse time for RIM as it coincided with the much-heralded launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

People queued outside stores across the world to purchase the latest iPhone. Apple received two million orders within the first 24 hours of announcing the phone’s release date, more than twice those received for the iPhone 4S over the same period a year ago. Analysts predict it will sell as many as ten million by the end of the month.

BlackBerry’s problems last year were caused by the failure of a dual redundant high capacity course switch, which was designed to protect infrastructure. The latest outage is a fresh blow to RIM, which saw shares fall to a nine-year low in June, with chief executive Thorstein Heins telling shareholders in July of his dissatisfaction with the company’s performance. There are plans to cut 30 percent of its workforce, while its new BlackBerry 10 device continues to be delayed.

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