BlackBerry maker RIM announced Monday that it would be offering a one-month extension as well as more than $100 worth of premium apps to its customers for free - an apology of sorts to its millions of disgruntled customers, who suffered global outages last week. The free downloads and service extension come appended to the most recent of a series of apologies issued by RIM for outages that spanned parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the U.S. Co-C.E.O. of RIM, Mike Lazaridis, said in a statement: We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers. We've worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we're committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.
BlackBerry's application store, Apps World, offers about 40,000 apps and has around 1 billion downloads to date. Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst at IDC, thinks offering the free apps will help RIM keep its customers.
For RIM, this is an interesting way to attract users to the App World and incentivize them to search and download apps, he said. More important than the offer itself, is that RIM is showing goodwill and being humble. They recognized the problem, apologized and now they are compensating their users.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, took the hypothesis a step further, suggesting that the move could actually help RIM. It is actually very clever, said Jeffries. It gives users a fair bit of value but it also locks them into the ecosystem. If they can pull it off, it could add value to the company.
However, despite these measures, it is unclear if RIM will survive this latest round of challenges. Richard Levick, President and C.E.O. of Levick Strategic Communications, a U.S. consultancy specializing in crisis management, criticized RIM's slow response.
I think it's a good start, but they are always late, he said. They are always behind the curve.
Even after the offer, shares dropped more than 5 percent Monday, trading at $22.75 on the Nasdaq by lunchtime. RIM shares have suffered a loss of over 60% since the beginning of 2011. In interviews with Computerworld, BlackBerry's enterprise customers expressed frustration with the outages, saying that they had to rely on texting and voice calls, which felt like going back to the 1990s.
The outage mattered to us, but there wasn't much we could do about it, said Paul Rowton, vice president of Edward Food Giant in Marianna, Arkansas, to the magazine. We'll probably switch when the iPhone gets 4G capability.