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RIM And Apple: Mobile Agony And Ecstasy

RIM's enterprise IT faithful writhe in pain, while Apple's worshippers hold vigil to buy the iPhone 4S. Did RIM's outage explanation Thursday help at all?
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I saw this when I fired up Twitter this morning:

" BREAKING: RIM employees calling in sick in order to buy iPhone 4S for themselves."

And this: "Dear #RIM, makers of my beloved #BlackBerry: Thank-you for honouring the death of Steve Jobs with 3 days of silence this week."

Finally, this:

"Dear Blackberry do you know what the #iPhone said to the #Blackberry? ..#iWork"

Oh, the gallows humor is getting pretty grim for RIM.

RIM's co-CEOs tried to explain this week's prolonged outage Thursday, but as InformationWeek's Jonathan Feldman explains, the company failed to answer some key questions that CIOs now have about the health of RIM's network.

Consider this reader comment on Feldman's story: "RIM's architecture is so old: three data centers (two of them next to each other) for 60-70 million users. This generates such a high risk for the most mundane failure, such as this week's Cisco switch failover. RIM should have built multiple data centers in many countries years ago. In their poor judgment they didn't see the benefits of reduced risk as opposed to increase in operational cost. With the swoosh sound of departing customers, they must be realizing the stupidity of that short-sightedness. Only other sinister explanation for keeping data centers in Canada and the UK could be to keep their encryption software away from the reaches of regulators in countries like UAE, India, etc.

Time to move on, BB was a good solution 10 years ago. Not anymore. By the way, Apple may risk a similar fate if they pump iCloud too much while trying to cram everything in their North Carolina data center."

What do you think: Is RIM's once-prized reliability a thing of the past? Is its network done scaling? And if it is, what else does the company have to offer enterprise IT? See what Feldman and other IT pros say, then join the conversation by adding your take.

Meanwhile, the Apple iPhone faithful lined up in the dark, as has become tradition, to get their mitts on the first iPhone 4S units at retail stores Friday morning, some offering tributes or memorials to Steve Jobs. Analysts predict this will be the record-setter iPhone rollout for sales, and early indications bear that out, as Eric Zeman reported Thursday.

Journalist Harry McCracken of Technologizer, waiting in line at San Francisco's Stonestown Galleria Mall, told me Friday morning via Twitter that he had not met any disgruntled BlackBerry owners in line, just a lot of college students. That's not surprising, but disgruntled BlackBerry users were certainly lining up in corporate hallways to gripe this week.

It hasn't been all ecstasy for Apple this week, of course, as the reader comments happening on our coverage of the disastrous iOS 5 update shows.

These are the two faces of mobile today: People love smartphones enough that they will wait in the dark, in the rain even, to get the newest Apple creation. People need smartphones enough that even a short service outage is deemed unacceptable, and an outage this long could deal RIM a knockout punch.

People are passionate enough about phones to become an always-on, always-honest, worldwide network of mobile analysts on Twitter.

By the way, what about that other little phone player, Google? In announcing its record-setting quarterly revenue Thursday, Google disclosed that 555,000 Android devices are now being activated daily.

That's iLluminating news for RIM and Apple, isn't it?

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.

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