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A Relaxing Afternoon Off the RIM

I spent most of the afternoon today in meetings, and of course, we don’t touch our Blackberries while we’re focused on the Present (I’m pretty serious about this, Blackberry use means I don’t need to be in the meeting). However, during times between meetings and on breaks, out they come (to the demise of any social interaction). Fortunately for me today, I had plenty of time to socialize since I wasn’t receiving emails on my ball-and-chain. It was interesting seeing some of us engage with others when we would have normally been thumbing our way through torrid responses to the next critical event of the day.

Research In Motion (RIM), who run the Blackberry messaging infrastructure, had an outage. I received a few delayed messages around 4:15 PM CT, and then a slew of them a little after 6:00 PM. According to the Wall Street Journal (online) [1]:

Research In Motion Ltd. experienced a significant outage of its BlackBerry wireless email service yesterday, its second major North American disruption in the past 12 months, signaling a potentially troubling pattern for the wireless email company.

The cause of the outage, which began midafternoon Eastern time and affected customers across wireless carriers and the country for several hours, remained unknown yesterday evening.

Coming 10 months after a similar email blackout, the latest incident could undermine BlackBerry’s reputation for dependable service which has won it strong loyalty. While its last widespread outage didn’t have a discernible impact on its growth rate, rivals are growing more formidable and RIM can’t afford to lose its edge.

There are probably a large number of people that were severely impacted… I know I tend to depend on the device to keep me connected to the office. Many people handle up-to-the-minute communication with their phones with the expectation that they can depend on it all the time. At least it’s been 10 months since the last outage, but this can create reasons to consider alternatives for some.

I, for one, was happy to have a little less stress this afternoon. I needed it.