Phones

Outage: BlackBerry Users May Be Upset, But Have Few Options

A second e-mail outage, even in the same week, will not be a confidence-buster for most BlackBerry users, even if it does fray the nerves. Still, the question looms: How many more outages will Research in Motion's customers accept before large-scale defections begin?

If you actually write the check that covers your wireless service, how many more outages will you stand for?

Probably a bunch, because, if you are like most BlackBerry users I know, you love the device and are totally immune to the siren songs of the iPhone or Droid. And, besides, you want a good keyboard on your device.

Sure, you can try to get a refund to cover the outage, but your time may be worth more than what you get back. Besides, the two outages were not major failures-- not like T-Mobile's Sidekick data loss--more inconveniences than weeks spent wondering when your life (and data) will get back to normal.

If you are a worker droid (note the little "d") who gets a BlackBerry courtesy of the large corner office, then what you think barely matters. You will get a new smartphone when the outages finally upset the boss and/or IT department enough to make what might be a very expensive change.

That's the deal with customer lock-in, which Research in Motion enjoys with many of its customers. BlackBerry customers will stay until the cost of staying becomes too high. Even then, they may not bolt until their regular contract renewal, new budget year, etc.

Thus, RIM essentially gets a free pass on these outages. If they don't continue, they will be largely forgotten by most users. Inside RIM, the outages should be an early warning that processes have broken and need to be fixed. Especially their software development and testing, which seems to have been the problem here.

It is hard to imagine RIM, which has an excellent service reputation, won't get their network fixed quickly.

Of course, that's also what I'd have said after the first outage. Now, after the second, customer confidence is shaken and needs to be restored.

The best way to do that isn't with teensy refunds, but by fixing the problem(s) and communicating with customers, so they know RIM takes the outages even more seriously than they do. After that, only better performance can restore lost confidence.

And it doesn't hurt RIM that many of its customers are, essentially, locked-in with nowhere else they can easily go, or would want to.

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

Subscribe to the Best of PCWorld Newsletter

Comments