Some analysts had theorized that the RIM problems might be due to malicious behavior. But RIM's statement to customers blames the failure of a core switch -- and the failure of that's switch's backup -- for the cascading problems globally. Part of the delays in North America could be from shifting enormous numbers of emails and messages to North America from other regions, analysts said.
Today's update indicates that RIM suffered from a disaster planning problem in one region that led to service delays in North America, said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner. The progression of problems to North America "may have been caused by [data] load shifting during the outage," he said.
"No doubt it will take some time to clear the message cache once the problem is fixed," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "How long is not clear."
The service disruptions led to humor on Twitter accounts, often in tweets sent from PCs. "My BlackBerry is so secure, even I can't read my emails. Beat that iPhone," tweeted Nickpickles at noon ET.
Separately, one Computerworld staffer said his BlackBerry problems made it impossible to load the public bus schedule for San Francisco from the Web on Wednesday morning. He missed his bus.
Some criticism was more pointed. "The expectations of BlackBerry users are extremely high," wrote Mimecast Product Marketing Manager Barry Gill in a blog. Mimecast, which offers email management services, conducted a survey in 2010 showing 66 percent of BlackBerry users believed even one hour of downtime a month was not acceptable, while 22 percent said no downtime is acceptable at all.
"I can only imagine how these users feel about the last three days' worth of interruptions," Gill added.
Independent analyst Jeff Kagan was direct, saying in an email: "The RIM BlackBerry outage is not good news for the struggling company as it tries to improve going forward. In the past, these outages were annoyances. Today, with the growing smartphone sector and competitors like Apple iPhone and Google Android eating RIM's lunch, this BlackBerry outage could be very damaging to the company."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com. Read more about mobile apps and services in Computerworld's Mobile Apps and Services Topic Center.