U.S. News

BlackBerry Outage Caused by Storage Feature Update, RIM Says

A Blackberry devise is used on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh

A service outage this week of BlackBerry e-mail devices resulted from a new storage feature that was not sufficiently tested, device maker Research In Motion said.

RIM said it was able to rule out concerns that the failure was caused by a security breach into its system or an inability to provide enough capacity to nearly 8 million subscribers, according to a statement issued late on Thursday.

RIM also found that the outage was not caused by any flaws in its hardware or its main software infrastructure.

Standard & Poor's equity analyst Kenneth Leon told CNBC.com that the company should clearly explain what it's doing to prevent the same type of outage from recurring.

"It's prudent for them to have an announcement on what went wrong and what the remedies are that this won't happen again," Leon said. "Very often, when there's a problem, it has to do with the 270 carriers (that RIM works with worldwide). This is a situation where it was a RIM problem, and we don't see that so often."

RIM Co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie said Friday that the company is making internal changes to prevent another outage, and said RIM is "very actively" communicating with customers about the problem.

"It's very rare that we have these events," he said. "I think it's pretty likely that the systems are in place that this kind of thing, as incredibly unlikely as it is to happen, is all the more unlikely to happen again," Balsillie told Reuters.

RIM introduced new software designed to make the use of temporary storage on the BlackBerry device more efficient.

But the procedure caused an unexpected problem that "triggered a compounding series of interaction errors between the system's operational database and cache," the company said.

The crash left politicians, lawyers, business executives and other "CrackBerry" addicts without wireless e-mail service on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

RIM also defended the way it had handled the crisis, despite criticism that it was slow to communicate with subscribers about the extent and cause of the outage.

"RIM's first priority during any service interruption is always to restore service and then establish, monitor and maintain stability," the company said.

"Proper analysis can take several days or longer," it added, "and RIM's commitment is to provide the most accurate and complete information possible in such situations."