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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

BlackBerry offers angry users $100 in free apps as apology



screen_shot_2011-10-19_at_10.30.38_am.pngLast week, BlackBerry users experienced a service disruption that in some countries lasted three days. Said to have affected their entire customer base of 70 million users, the outage lasted for one day in the U.S., 1.5 days in Latin America and Canada and for about three days in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. To compensate users for their inconvenience and frustration, Research in Motion (RIM) is offering users $100 in free premium apps between now and the end of the year.

“We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience,” said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence. We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again.”

Beginning today (Oct. 19, 2011), BlackBerry users can start downloading the free apps at BlackBerry App World. The complete selection of free apps will be made available over a four week period and will include the following apps, with more titles on the way.

• SIMS 3 - Electronic Arts
• Bejeweled - Electronic Arts
• N.O.V.A. - Gameloft
• Texas Hold’em Poker 2 - Gameloft
• Bubble Bash 2 - Gameloft
• Photo Editor Ultimate - Ice Cold Apps
• Pro -
• iSpeech Translator Pro -
• Drive Enterprise -
• Nobex Radio™ Premium - Nobex
• Shazam Encore - Shazam
• Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant - Vlingo

This is a nice gesture on RIM's part after such a devastating outage which happened at a critical time, just before the release of the iPhone 4S. With so many other enterprise-level choices for smartphones, the BlackBerry has been struggling and mostly continues to survive because of undying enthusiasm by some of its users. I have friends who swear they will never switch, but even those people can be swayed when their service is disrupted for a whole day. RIM also has tried to enter the tablet market with their PlayBook which looks to be headed in the same direction as the HP Touchpad and the Dodo bird. Will a bunch of free apps be enough to regain the confidence of their users?

RIM's developer's conference (DevCon) is going on right now, and it started with an apology, by Lazaridis, for the recent problems. Again, bad timing as they announce their next-generation operating system called BBX. There are reports that RIM is giving PlayBook tablets to all 6,000 attendees at DevCom. That's 6,000 down, a couple hundred thousand to go.

BlackBerry users, let me know how this affected you and share your opinions on this gesture by RIM and the future of BlackBerry.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 3:39am]


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