BlackBerry Outage Apology: Here Are Some Free Apps You Might Not Want

In an attempt to placate millions of BlackBerry users who suffered service outages for up to three days last week, the smartphone’s makers, Research in Motion, have announced they’ll offer up a $100 credit for certain apps. Yay…?

The announcement of the credit for the online store, made Monday, says the New York Times, might not go that far into making amends to those who were inconvenienced by last week’s massive outages. Because, well, not everyone with a BlackBerry even uses apps.

In addition, only 12 apps were announced to be available at no cost, although RIM says they’ll had more before the downloading period begins Wednesday. Apps aren’t really seen as valuable additions to the BlackBerry, unlike the appeal of those on the iPhone or Android devices.

As the NYT points out, it might be difficult to even spend the $100:

Indeed, if users opt for the less expensive, professional version of DriveSafe.ly, which sells for $19.99, rather than the $79.99 “enterprise” version, and then buy all of the other apps on the list released on Monday, they will have spent only $76. Even that seems unlikely as some of those apps perform similar functions.

For corporations and governments affected, RIM is giving out technical support for free for a month.

RIM Offers Free Apps as Apology for Shutdown [New York Times]

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  1. mauispiderweb says:

    They should all get a free month of service.

  2. MMD says:

    I’ll venture a guess that users would prefer concrete steps toward more reliable service.

    • Rachacha says:

      The solution to that problem is to switch to another platform that does not have a single point of failure. On all other smart phones, if my cell provider has a nationwide outage (unlikely, but presumably possible), I can go to any WiFi hotspot and still get my e-mail etc while on the road. It may not be convenient, but at least it is more than a battery powered brick.

      • CubeRat says:

        Yes, I agree that a backup is needed to prevent a single point of failure. But would your idea cause a degrade in the BB info security? How many users would want to have a BB if the data no longer had the security? Certainly, the iphone can’t touch BB; and I’ve never heard of any other smart phone that can.

        I’ve been researching smart phones recently, and even with the outage this week, Blackberry is the far in the lead.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Yeah, RIM is missing the mark here. Not only does it market heavily to government and corporations, whose users don’t tend to use apps or can’t use the apps, RIM doesn’t carry enough of the smartphone market that would use apps to make a dent.

    If I had a BlackBerry and couldn’t use it, I’d be upset and apps would not be a satisfying apology. I, like many others, don’t have a landline.

    • seth_lerman says:

      “Yeah, RIM is missing the mark here. Not only does it market heavily to government and corporations, whose users don’t tend to use apps or can’t use the apps, RIM doesn’t carry enough of the smartphone market that would use apps to make a dent.”

      As I understand the article. the apps don’t apply to them, they get a free month on their support contract. The apps offer is for personal users.

      “If I had a BlackBerry and couldn’t use it, I’d be upset and apps would not be a satisfying apology. I, like many others, don’t have a landline.”

      Phone calls (in response to your comment about not having a landline) were unaffected by the outage. This was specific to certain data functions.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      BlackBerry was already in free fall in the consumer market. From a user perspective, their software is antiquated, and their zeal to maintain physical keyboards (to placate their corporate customers) has caused them to cede the much larger consumer market to touchscreen devices in the mold of the iPhone. The outage rendering all data services inoperable was just a nail in the coffin.

      Corporations still flock to BB for the security. Even though “push” email (BB’s original selling point) has been replicated directly in the Exchange servers most corps use for email, the BB still offers better security, due to the encryption (private data is never out on the Internet “in the clear”) and the ability to enforce security policies on the handsets, such as disallowing the camera, or apps, forcing the user To have a unlock code for the device, and even remote wipe of lost/stolen devices years before any competitors. Apple and Google have made strides providing such functionality, but still operate under the fundamental assumption that the owner and user are the same person.

      Phone calls and SMS flow directly through the carrier networks, and were unaffected by this outage. Only data services were affected. Unlike Apple iOS or Android devices, which connect directly to the Internet, BlackBerries connect to either a BlackBerry Internet Server (BIS), or their employer’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). All Internet connectivity to/from the phone flows through these servers, which compress and encrypt all the data passing to and from the phone.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        An alternative is to use software that forces data encryption and proxies mail server requests to ensure every step of the chain is secure. Granted, this only produces a fair comparison when using iOS since most Android devices lack hardware support for data encryption.

      • nuggetboy says:

        I believe Apple added hardware encryption and policy-based unlock codes to the iPhone when the 3GS came out, no?

        It’s been awhile since I dusted off my corporate-issued BB, but it seems like the only thing RIM has on Apple now is email filtering (Apple’s omission of this escapes me) and the physical keyboard, if you prefer that. Or am I missing something?

  4. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I hate government over regulation, but when companies can’t be trusted to do the right thing, it seems like the government needs to step in and spell out what amends cell phone companies/operators, etc… must make for outages. They have a captive audience b/c of contracts.

    • Rachacha says:

      You don’t need refulation for an outage. If you are not happy with the service/appology, leave and go to another provider…simple as that. The user has a contract w/ BB and their cell provider. They have failed to live up to that contract , so leave.

      • MMD says:

        Is it that simple, though? Wouldn’t you get slammed with an ETF? What kind of outage is egregious enough that you could just be let out of a contract?

        • Rena says:

          That’s not an argument for regulating repayments in service outages though, that’s an argument for banning ETFs/contracts in general. Replace “unreliable service” with any other reason you might want to leave, and you still have the same problem.

  5. MickeyG says:

    What is with the American media and being so down on RIM/BlackBerry? Seriously. Calm the eff down. Is Apple paying the media to slam them whenever they can and put Apple on a pedestal all the other times?

    I have a BlackBerry, and yeah, it was out for a day. It sucked, but it wasn’t THAT BIG OF A DEAL. I could still call people and I could text people. For awhile, I could even use my browser. What I couldn’t do? I couldn’t use BBM (BUT, I could TEXT), and I couldn’t use my Apps. That.Was.It.
    Stuff happens – not everything works 100% of the time. If you don’t realize that in this technology ridden world then you must be angry just about all the freakin’ time.

    I think this is a nice thing to do. They really didn’t have to do anything. And if you don’t have a BlackBerry and don’t plan on ever owning one because your iPhone/Android/Win 7 phone is so much more superior – why the hell do you care?

    • Rachacha says:

      I think the media is on this because it became almost (or completely) a world wide outage for several days, and it points out the weakness in their systems. A failure of equipment in one country, overloaded servers in another country, killing those servers, and eventually killed services in the US/Canada.

      4 years ago, BB was the KING of smart phones, they were everywhere. Back in 2009, BB had almost a 40% market share, today, they are at about 27% (it would appear primarially due to Android) http://mashable.com/2011/02/01/nielsen-smartphone-marketshare/ and their stock price has been dropping steadily the entire year. Their handsets look old and uncool (due in part to catering to their core userbase who want a physical keyboard) and their backend systems for business are expensive to maintain, and redundant if the business is using an Exchange server to host their e-mail.

      BB has steadily been declining in userbase, and if they slip much further, I suspect their days are numbered. Persistent outages are not helping their brand loyalty, so their future looks bad unless they can keep their customers happy and turn this thing around for the better.

    • daemonaquila says:

      Ok, so you hate Apple – but it WAS a huge issue for many users, so don’t make light of it. An attorney colleague with the misfortune of owning a Blackberry (nor for long – he’s switching to iPhone ASAP after his experiences last week) had his email out not for several days. That’s a crisis for a lawyer or other professional who depends on the device. When service was finally restored, all his old emails had been deleted. This is also a huge deal for a lot of people.

  6. dpeters11 says:

    Our Blackberry’s stayed working thanks to a backup system we had in place, but I still would rather know the steps they’ll take to prevent this in the future than some crappy games and a few apps. We don’t use them for support anyway, we always have gotten better support from a third party company.

  7. vastrightwing says:

    I find BB technology unsettling since all your data is funneled to BB servers. This means a single point of failure for all BB traffic? Am I missing something here?

    At least if T-Mobile or Verizon has a network outage, it usually only affects specific nodes (users) and not the entire system. Seems to me BB should try a more distributive approach. Of course that won’t mesh well with the NSA and countries which like to look at all the traffic on the BB network. Or am I paranoid?

    • Rachacha says:

      Absolutely correct. The advantages that BB offered users were
      * encryption of data before it wento out over the airwaves
      * Push data (so messages were automatically sent rather than having to request the data)
      * The ability to remotely wipe the phone incase it was lost
      * enforcable security measures like requiring a lock code on the handset
      Several years ago, this was a big deal

      Today, almost every phone can do this. I have an iPhone, and I have my work E-mail pushed to my phone. The data is encrytped at my work servers, and this requires that I have a lock code on my phone. If my phone is lost, I can use “Find My iPhone” to locate the phone, and if necessary remotely wipe the phone. BB may still have some advantages, but the competition is catching up fast.

      • JonBoy470 says:

        RIM is boned. Yes, they’ve offered these features for years. But the competition has caught up, and achieved similar functionality without the expense or hassle of a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Apple, in particular, has made great strides towards making the iPhone “enterprise friendly” with the manageability and security (and push email) that formerly made BlackBerries the go-to corporate device. About the only thing they have left is BBM (still more feature-rich than iMessage) and the ability to side-load apps onto the device (and thus have proprietary apps not available to the general public).

        Meanwhile, RIM has been asleep at the wheel on the device front. They completely missed the whole “touchscreen” boat, listening to their current customer base (who love the physical BB keyboard) instead of their potential customer base, who were in love with touch. Their current product line (Torch, Bold Touch) are devices they should have had on the market a couple of years ago. A BlackBerry is still the best device for messaging, but iOS (and Android) do messaging “good enough” AND do everything else better than a BlackBerry.

  8. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    something something words words words KITTEN!

  9. sopmodm14 says:

    you pay for service, and you should get a refund for services not rendered

  10. donovanr says:

    It is hard to give any gift to the customers of BBs as their companies / governments tend to pay for them and then force their employees to use them. You could offer 1,000 free apps plus 10 years free service and that would not benefit most end users of the devices. Basically Blackberries have become the new IE6.

  11. ridgerat says:

    Hey! I think I found Jack the Cat!

  12. Skandrannon says:

    I don’t understand how other Smartphones haven’t completely killed off Blackberries.
    ESPECIALLY in Corporate America.
    Here’s Why:
    iPhone, Droid, other smartphones – want e-mail? Great! 5 minute setup. You might need to call someone to find out your domain, but that’s it.

    BlackBerry: User – going to need Enterprise Data Plan
    BlackBerry: Company – going to need a BES, going to need to hire peeps to manage it, going to need processes created for BB access.

    BlackBerry costs the user and the company all sorts of extra money, while every other smartphone does not.

    Why are they still used?
    Why hasn’t RIM noticed what I notice, and get with the program, and stop costing folks extra money?

  13. Skandrannon says:

    I don’t understand how other Smartphones haven’t completely killed off Blackberries.
    ESPECIALLY in Corporate America.
    Here’s Why:
    iPhone, Droid, other smartphones – want e-mail? Great! 5 minute setup. You might need to call someone to find out your domain, but that’s it.

    BlackBerry: User – going to need Enterprise Data Plan
    BlackBerry: Company – going to need a BES, going to need to hire peeps to manage it, going to need processes created for BB access.

    BlackBerry costs the user and the company all sorts of extra money, while every other smartphone does not.

    Why are they still used?
    Why hasn’t RIM noticed what I notice, and get with the program, and stop costing folks extra money?