By Tara Seals
The BlackBerry wireless e-mail system is back up and running, but the
service outage that affected millions Tuesday night and Wednesday
morning has caused a backlog of messages that will continue to affect
the use of the addictive mobile handhelds for an unspecified time.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. said in a statement that the
cause of the outage is still being investigated and that the network
is being monitored to maintain normal service levels.
The BlackBerry system suffered a "massive system failure" at about 8
p.m. EDT on Tuesday, leaving many without service. The temporary
snarling of mobile e-mail delivery -- even though it mainly occurred in
the overnight hours -- has been enough to make many question the wisdom
of relying on mobile devices for mission-critical use.
"The rapid subscriber growth, plus the runaway junk email boom, equals a
disaster in the making," said analyst Jeff Kagan, labeling the outage as
"Networks work fine until they reach their capacity, then all sorts of
strange things happen," he said. "The immediate solution: Call in and
use the phone to check for messages. The phone. you know, that big thing
on most desks with a wire coming out the back. This is a sampling of the
chaos we could be working through if we have a meltdown of our networks,
or a terrorist attack. Terrorists could cause so much more damage
breaking our networks."
Is this hyperbole? In a Webinar poll conducted this morning by telecom
expense management firm ProfitLine, 81 percent of responding large
enterprise IT and telecom professionals reported disruption to
operations from the BlackBerry outage. And 44.5 percent reported
"moderate or substantial" impact to enterprise productivity, while
only 18.2 percent reported no impact from the outage.
"These numbers show theq critical role that wireless devices play in
corporate America," said Randall De Lorenzo, ProfitLine's vice president
of mobility strategies. "Wireless communication has gone from a travel
convenience to a mission critical communications tool."
Nonetheless, one can't put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak.
Wireless e-mail has taken off in the past 12 months, and at this point
it's unlikely users will abandon it. In fact, market penetration of the
service could reach as high as 70 percent of mobile professionals by the
end of 2007, according to a survey by pollster Global Market Insite Inc.
However, for businesses that are heavy users, implementing a disaster
recovery back-up plan might be a good idea.
Research In Motion Ltd. www.rim.net
Copyright 2007, Reuters, Inc.
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