It really couldn’t have come at a worse time.

As its arch rival Apple [AAPL] prepares to launch their latest iPhone, struggling Blackberry maker Research In Motion [RIM] has been hit by service outages across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The problems started at around 8 am GMT this morning, according to the Telegraph, with many Blackberry users unable to access the internet, send and receive emails or use instant messaging service BBM from their devices.

In a statement RIM said: "We are currently experiencing a BlackBerry service issue impacting some users in Europe, Middle East & Africa."

"All relevant support teams are working to resolve the issue. We apologize to any customers who may be affected.”

The company did not say how many handsets had been affected by the disruption.

RIM is fighting for its life in the face of intense competition from Apple and Google’s [GOOG] Android platform.

The Cupertino giant’s iPhone 5 is set to break all previous sales records, booking 2 million orders only 24 hours after it became available for pre-order on Apple’s site.

Blackberry suffered its worst service disruption in October last year, when its network went down around the globe for up to three days.