It's hard to feel sorry for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, with the company's arrogance, if not foolishness, at the highest management level. But it's getting so bad with this three-day global services outage I'm nearing that point.
There's been the ill-fated launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The company says all is fine, but reality says the PlayBook tablet is barely selling at all -- getting crushed by the industry-leading Apple iPad. Then there's that other Apple product BlackBerry doesn't know what to do with -- the iPhone.
At one time, RIM's BlackBerry smartphone was the industry leader. Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 and everything began to change. Once Apple put the iPhone 4 on sale last year and added Verizon as a carrier to give more scope, RIM's BlackBerry has been sinking like the Titatanic. It's taking a while, and parts are still visible, but it's apparent this ship can no longer float.
Adding insult to proverbial injury was the London Riots this summer in which RIM's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) became a weapon of sorts via a main communication tool for rioters.
Now comes the latest -- a three-day outage of BlackBerry services including email and Internet across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India plus some spotty outages in the U.S. Here's where you start to feel for the company: While RIM and BlackBerry have been all but dead in the U.S, life remained for the company, its products, and services in these other countries.
Some said it was RIM's last real strength. And now this.
A three-day outage over such a wide area in this day and age is almost unfathomable. RIM blames it on a core switch failure. A company spokesman in a press conference on Wednesday said the switch failure caused a build-up of delayed messages that led to days of global outages.
Over time, the build-up apparently collected like lawn thatch, so that eventually all was smothered so that it didn't work at all.
It sounds dubious, Karl Volkman, the chief technology officer of Chicago-area network consultancy SRV Network, told FoxNews.com. This many days after the failure, it's hard to believe.
Volkman said, It's got to be other problems that have surfaced due the weight of all these messages going back and forth. There's got to be some sort of cascading effect.
But we've learned with RIM that while it may be hard to believe, it's probably that simple and quite true. The company seems snake-bitten, and not smart enough to get out of the snake den. The company doesn't think hackers are involved. Rather, it thinks the problem lies within the system switch failure leading to a domino effect of failure.
Regardless, it may be the buckling of the last leg RIM had to stand upon. In this day, smartphone owners aren't interested in days of system outage, with no email and Internet. There are too many other options, like Apple and others. For RIM, the three-day outage in its strongest markets drops the sinking ship deeper in the water.
And I almost feel bad for the company -- almost.