RIMM in Trouble Today...BlackBerry Disruption May Affect Millions of Users (Update2)
By Gwen Ackerman and Crayton Harrison
April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry service experienced disruptions in North America and other parts of the world, affecting an unspecified number of the company's 8 million subscribers. The company hasn't provided a timeframe for when the service might be restored.
AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, the two largest U.S. wireless service providers, both said the problems began last night. San Antonio-based AT&T is working with Research in Motion to resolve the issue, spokesman Mark Siegel said. He didn't provide details on the number of customers affected.
``Please be advised that we are currently experiencing a service interruption that is causing delays in sending and receiving messages,'' said a recording on a RIM customer service number in Vancouver. The company ``will provide updates as soon as they become available.'' Officials at the Waterloo, Ontario- based company couldn't be reached for comment.
The disruption may be limited to North America, with some problems in other parts of the world for customers who receive their e-mails through North American servers. Mobile-phone companies in Asia and Europe said they haven't had problems.
Shares of Research in Motion fell $3.22, or 2.1 percent, to $128.50 at 8:52 a.m. New York time in early trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Before today, shares of Research In Motion had gained 2.7 percent this year.
Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, began receiving calls from customers at roughly 6 p.m. New York time last night, spokesman Jim Gerace said in an interview. He declined to say how many customers called or how many own Blackberry devices.
Sara Krueger, a spokeswoman for Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless service provider, declined to comment and referred questions to Research In Motion.
Research In Motion had 45 percent of the U.S. market for advanced phones with features such as e-mail in the fourth quarter, according to researcher IDC. Sunnyvale, California-based Palm Inc. was second with 18 percent, while Schaumburg, Illinois- based Motorola Inc. had 12 percent.
General Motors Corp. spokesman Chris Preuss, who is based in Detroit, was one of several U.S.-based participants on a press trip in China who had intermittent or blacked out BlackBerry coverage today.
The BlackBerry service is ``the only way I have to communicate,'' said Preuss, who was in Liuzhou, China, for a press trip of a General Motors joint venture factory. ``When I lose it, it's paralyzing.''
NTT DoCoMo Inc. hasn't received any reports about problems with the BlackBerry service, spokesman Masanori Goto said by phone. Taiwan Mobile, which carries the BlackBerry service in Taiwan, had no reports of problems, said Shirley Zhu, a spokeswoman for the Taipei-based operator. Vodafone spokesman Mark Pursey said the company's BlackBerry customers weren't having any technical problems. Vodafone is the biggest European wireless operator.
To contact the reporters on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
; Crayton Harrison in Dallas at email@example.com
Last Updated: April 18, 2007 08:54 EDT