The last few days have been very difficult for RIM, manufacturers of the popular BlackBerry smart phone. An apparent electrical failure in Slough meant that millions of BlackBerry owners in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and parts of South America were left without access to internet services from their phone. This meant services such as emails, browsing and instant message applications such as BlackBerry Messenger were unavailable.
While users rapidly began to express their outrage across social networking sites, RIM stayed silent. At the time of writing, there is still no clear explanation of what exactly went wrong. BlackBerry has been quoted as reporting a “core switch failure” on Tuesday evening; however, it seems as of Wednesday morning that this is no longer the case. A recent statement from BlackBerry’s Stephen Bates reported that staff, ''thought we had found the problem [BB outage] but had not. We are working around the clock to get to the bottom of the problem.'' I am among the many frustrated BlackBerry owners, and have suffered almost non-existent or sporadic email service, and no access to instant messaging services for the last few days. I have also suffered constant uninformative texts from my network provider, Orange, to say that they are aware of the problem and it should be fixed soon. That’s all well and good Orange, but I still don’t have access to my emails, and it’s Wednesday afternoon. Frustrations aside, this incident has highlighted how important mobile internet has become. I watched an interesting slideshow earlier this week by Brad Frost dictating on how we need to future proof the web, and that mobile internet is a large part of this. It really is, and it shouldn't be underestimated. Frost points out that the web is no longer confined to a computer or to a laptop, it is all around us. It is in the devices we carry in our pockets, in our music players and in our TVs. And for those who are away from home machines during the day and are not computer or desk-based at their work, these smaller devices are paramount. RIM will probably never let us know the exact scale of the disruption their service failure has caused, but the reaction amongst users is enough to hazard a guess. BlackBerry users are outraged, confused and frustrated. Mobile internet is a no longer the luxury of the few, it is now a necessity. This event, though aggravating, should be a massive wake up call to companies that mobile internet is a growing platform that should not be overlooked. What do you think? Were you affected by the BlackBerry failures this week? Tweet me @lucy_callag