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Will outage put squeeze on Blackberry?

Bob Moon Dec 23, 2009

Will outage put squeeze on Blackberry?

Bob Moon Dec 23, 2009


KAI RYSSDAL: There are days I really want a smart phone. And there are days I’m really glad I’m not a captive to one. This was one of those days.

Another BlackBerry blackout yesterday left users of the usually reliable device with idle thumbs for the second time in less than a week. E-mail and Web service was out for several hours last night, leaving 36 million addicted users feeling out of touch. Service was finally restored early this morning.

Our Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon reports the company needs to be careful with its reputation, to keep rivals at bay.

Bob Moon: You can’t ask for a better endorsement than one from the country’s customer-in-chief. You might recall it was none other than the president-elect who told ABC’s Barbara Walters he was determined to hang on to his BlackBerry when he took office.

President Barack Obama: I’m negotiating to figure out how can I get information from outside of the 10 or 12 people who surround my office in the White House.

Such is the passion of BlackBerry users that Mr. Obama succeeded in keeping his BlackBerry. And we can only assume he felt as much isolation as other users when their link to the outside world went dead. But would it be enough to make them switch allegiances?

Forrester Research analyst Ellen Daley says a growing number of rivals have their eye on the business market that BlackBerry’s maker, Research In Motion, pioneered.

Ellen Daley: This is important for RIM. They really are the face of reliability and security for mobile devices. And every outage, you know, kind of knocks them down a little bit, in terms of that trusting provider.

But, Daley is quick to add, Research in Motion still has a solid lock on the market.

Daley: The outages are a bummer, but the competition can’t really leverage much, because they don’t have an offering comparable.

She says the iPhone and Google’s Droid look promising, but still have a very long way to go to prove their security and reliability.

And Kevin Michaluk, who publishes the Web site CrackBerry.com, says if anything, these outages just prove the point.

Kevin Michaluk: When you have a hiccup like this, where it goes down for hours, that’s a big hiccup for sure, and it annoys a lot of people, myself included. I mean, a day like yesterday is torture. But it’s kind of one of those things where a little separation, I think, makes your, you know, heart grow fonder because you almost realize how indispensible the device is.

Michaluk says when users spend hour after hour, day after day, with their BlackBerries, a brief outage like this doesn’t really add up to much.

In Los Angeles, I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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