Ina Fried

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RIM Says Service Back Globally, Vows to Win Back Lost Trust

Research In Motion said on Thursday that its service is returning to normal levels following a days-long outage in Europe that spread globally.

“BlackBerry services are operating well globally,” the company said in a statement. “Some customers in Canada and Latin America who are sending messages to other regions may see intermittent message delays. Support teams are actively addressing this.”

The outage began earlier this week after what RIM said was a core switch failure followed by a problem that caused backup systems not to kick in as anticipated.

The company held a conference call, which AllThingsD covered.

Earlier on Thursday, RIM posted a video apology from co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, as well as an update noting that it is starting to see service levels improve.

Here’s the liveblog of the call:
7:06 am: Call kicking off now.

7:07 am: Both RIM co-CEOs are on the call, along with CTO for Software David Yach.

Lazaridis: I want to personally update you on what is going on.

“Before I do, I want to personally apologize to all of the BlackBerry customers we have let down.”

As he noted in his video, “You expect better of us. I expect better of us.”

“We’ve now restored full services.”

7:09 am: Going through what happened. Also says taking immediate steps to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again, and to restore trust.

We’re working with vendors to prevent the failure mode that happened, conducting analysis of why system took longer than expected to restart.

7:10 am: On to Q&A.

7:11 am: First question on whether recent layoffs affected response.

Lazaridis: No. “That would not have affected this.”

7:11 am: Second question: Are you willing to talk about reparations, and do you have arrangements with customers guaranteeing service?

Co-CEO Jim Balsillie: Focus has been on restoring service, though he did say the company does have service-level agreements.

7:12 am: Was this incident preceded by any changes to the network, and who is the vendor of the switch that failed?

RIM: No recent changes were made. The system is provided by multiple vendors, and until the company has the root cause, it is not identifying those vendors.

7:14 am: Are there any customers still experiencing issues?

Lazaridis: All the services are back up globally.

7:15 am: With the outage starting on Monday, why was the video apology not posted until Thursday?

Lazaridis: “I was very much involved in the management of the procedures to bring (the services) up.”

Another RIM executive notes that Lazaridis was directing the team responding to the issue, and notes that no one at RIM has been going home.

7:17 am: As I am sure you are aware, you have a lot of angry customers asking, “How are you going to make this up to us?”

Lazaridis: “That is something we are now turning our attention to.” Our priority right up until this moment was making sure our system was up and running.

In response to another question, Lazaridis notes this was the largest outage in the company’s history and the first major disruption in 18 months.

7:20 am: Another compensation question. This time asked about how RIM will compensate carriers.

Balsillie: “I’ve talked to global CEOs of carriers.” From the heads, their issue was one of support, not about compensation.

“This kind of discussion was not the priority.” In this sort of situation, everyone pulls together. “Everyone was focused on how do we work together.”

Of course, with the service back up, I’d imagine those same carriers will be ready to talk about those issues any time now.

7:23 am: Are you concerned you are alienating potential customers on the eve of the launch of the new iPhone?

RIM: “We’ve worked 12 years since the launch of the BlackBerry … We’re going to fully commit to win that trust back.”

7:28 am: All right. Well, there ya go.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus