The BlackBerry outage that has deep-sixed mobile messaging and Web service to an estimated millions of BlackBerry users worldwide is starting to ease up, BlackBerry's top executives said, but it's still unclear when full BlackBerry service will be restored.
"I'd like to give you an estimated time of full recovery around the world, but I cannot do that with certainty at this time," a somber Mike Lazaridis, RIM founder and co-CEO, said in a video update Thursday morning. The video, which runs 1 minute and 40 seconds, was posted on RIM's BlackBerry Service Update Web page.
The video comes as RIM enters day four of its largest BlackBerry service interruption to date. The outage started Monday in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, causing e-mail and other mobile messages to fail and crippling mobile Web service. On Wednesday, the outage had reached the Americas, with frustrated BlackBerry users reporting spotty service or no service in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Lazaridis said service has started to return to normal levels in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, but some instability may continue as BlackBerry works to fully restore service levels.
An apologetic Lazaridis said RIM and BlackBerry dropped the ball and that the company will work around the clock to fix the problem and make sure it doesn't happen again.
"Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it's been my goal to provide reliable, real-time communications around the world," he said. "We did not deliver on that goal this week. Not even close."
In a brief press conference held Wednesday afternoon, RIM CTO David Yach said it appears the BlackBerry blackout was caused by a failure in a core switch in Europe where failover didn't function as expected, despite previous tests that were successful.
Yach said that as BlackBerry service started to recover, the backlog of undelivered messages gummed up the works further and was what caused the BlackBerry outage to spread to other geographies. He said the message logjam started in Europe and spread to the Americas as residents here attempted to send messages to European BlackBerry users.
Despite the backlog of messages and the BlackBerry outage reaching its fourth day, Yach said that RIM has made it its No. 1 priority to fully restore BlackBerry service globally and that no messages will be lost.
"All of the e-mail will be delivered," Yach said. "We will not be dropping any e-mail messages."
Yach also dispelled the rumor that a security breach or hack caused the BlackBerry outage.
"We have seen no evidence to believe this is the case," he said.
Yach would not say whether affected BlackBerry users would receive some sort of rebate or compensation for the e-mail and messaging downtime. He said RIM is focusing solely on restoring service and will figure out an appropriate make-good action at a later date.
"Our priority is to get the service up and running," he said.