As I’m writing this, referring to the problems besetting BlackBerry and Apple iPhone users as a “crumble” has already become something of an old joke. For their customers, it’s certainly no joke. Me? I’m a tad smug.
Since Monday this week, BlackBerry owners have been unable to access email, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and the internet. Yesterday the problems had spread from Europe to America, with Research In Motion (RIM) announcing today that services have ‘been operating with significant improvement’. Then again, the company said the same yesterday.
Frozen BlackBerry service
With the phrase ‘Dear BlackBerry’ trending on Twitter, BlackBerry users have been making their collective voice heard. There’s little doubt it’s a serious inconvenience. In a statement, our technology editor Matthew Bath said:
‘RIM should be doing more to keep customers informed about the ongoing problems with its service. In some cases, customers have heard about the issue from their mobile network provider but have heard nothing from RIM. Not great customer service.’
RIM has apologised for the outage, but customers aren’t impressed. As one disgruntled user tweeted: ‘The head of #BlackBerry has “apologised”. Helpful. Cos y’know… Orange accept words as bill payment for services you don’t get to use…’
Public outcry is disproportionate
While I agree with Matt that RIM could have handled the situation better, I think the impact has been exaggerated. Listening to news reports about the outage on my “dumb” phone’s FM radio, you’d think the world had ended.
As I say, I have a dumb phone and a one hour daily commute – each way. Yet, I manage to survive until I get to the office and log on to my “connected” device (my PC) when I pick up my emails and access the internet. Actually, I quite enjoy the commute, which – as a working mum – is the only time I get for quiet reflection.
Likewise, BlackBerry users clearly found some way to connect as they found the means to spread their disappointment via Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere online.
Apple OS upgrade crumbles
Fans of RIM-rival Apple were gleeful over these BlackBerry problems. As one Tweeter joked: ‘Dear BlackBerry, do you know what the #iPhone said to the #BlackBerry? … iWork’.
However, iPhone owners hoping to download the company’s new operating system iOS 5 may not be laughing quite so hard. Many users have complained of problems when upgrading, such as losing their Apps or their phones becoming unusable.
Again, I smugly hold up my dumb phone. It can’t download Apps and has a rubbish camera, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Why? Because it just works… as a phone. I’ve never had to upgrade it and, apart from the odd niggle about battery life, it suits me fine.
Listening to the hysteria surrounding BlackBerry and iPhone problems, I can’t help but wonder what we did when all our phones were dumb? Rather than texting, tweeting and surfing we may have actually talked to each other.