BlackBerry maker offers customers whose service was disrupted by three-day outage more than $100 worth of no-charge downloads.
In an effort to a apologize for a three-day outage that denied email and Web services to millions of its BlackBerry customers last week, Research In Motion said Monday that it will make apps that would ordinarily be worth more than $100 available to its subscribers free of charge.
"Our global network supports the communications needs of more than 70 million customers," said RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, 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."
The list of free games that RIM will release includes a number of popular entertainment and utility titles, such as Sims 3 and Bejeweled from Electronic Arts, Texas Hold 'Em Poker 2 by Gameloft, Photo Editor Ultimate from Ice Cold Apps, and iSpeech.org's Speech Translator Pro.
The titles can be downloaded from BlackBerry App World during a four-week period that begins on Wednesday. In addition to the free software, RIM also is offering customers a month of free technical support. Those with existing technical support contracts will be offered a one-month extension at no charge.
"We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience," added Lazaridis. "We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence. We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again."
The givebacks show just how seriously the company is taking reaction to the outage. According to a survey released Monday by shopping comparison website Kelkoo, one in five BlackBerry customers may ditch their devices due to the incident and purchase phones from RIM rivals like Apple and manufactures of Google Android handhelds.
The outage began Tuesday in Europe and developing markets, and quickly spread globally. Service to the BlackBerry network was not fully restored until Thursday, according to RIM. Scotia Capital analyst Gus Papageorgiou estimated that the company will have to pay out as much as $117 million in refunds and make-goods to customers as a result of the disruption.
Lazaridis, during a media briefing last week, blamed the outage on network problems. "A dual, redundant, high-capacity core switch designed to protect the core infrastructure failed." Lazaridis said.
The failure triggered a chain reaction throughout the company's worldwide systems. "This caused a cascade failure in our system. There was a backup switch, but the backup did not function as intended and this led to a backlog of data in the system. The failure in Europe in turn overloaded systems elsewhere. When we restarted the system based in Europe, the queue processing took longer than expected," said Lazaridis.
RIM shares have been hit hard by the incident. They were off 4.67%, to $22.85, in morning trading Monday.
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