It would be fair to say that RIM has hit an all-time low. Last week, the Waterloo giant’s misery was worsened by a series of failures in Research In Motion’s private network disrupted BlackBerry service to millions of customers across four continents.
The company lost face over its immature handling of the situation and misleading customers that the outage had been fixed. As expected, BlackBerry users weren’t amused and many of them went public with their plans to jump ship to alternative smartphone platforms, thereby forcing RIM to come up with a damage control strategy.
Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie yesterday announced that a selection of premium apps worth a total value of more than US $100 will be offered free of charge to subscribers as an expression of appreciation for their patience during the recent service disruptions.
While the company’s intentions are noble, the damage has been done.
The compensatory apps will be available over the coming weeks on BlackBerry App World. They include iSpeech Translator, Bejeweled, Shazam and Texas Hold’em Poker 2. The free app offer runs until the end of the year.
RIM says it will also offer of one month of free technical support to companies besides free online applications. However, I strongly believe that RIM’s corrective measures are too little and definitely too late. For a start, the company is providing only 12 apps that would be available at no cost. Secondly, the idea of free apps isn’t likely to appeal to the enterprise segment. On the contrary, they’d prefer a strict SLA on outages and downtimes. It’s no surprise that the recent outage is widely being projected as the ‘End of RIM’s Enterprise Honeymoon’ despite the company’s offer of providing corporate and government users technical support at no cost for one month.
“Our global network supports the communications needs of more than 70 million customers,” said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers. We’ve worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we’re committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.”
The free compensatory apps will do little to recover the lost investor confidence in RIM. There are already concerns that the company may need to revise to offset the cost of its promise to give $100 of free apps to all BlackBerry users. Though RIM has declined to comment on the extent of monetary loss caused by the recent outage, analysts anticipate the compensation plan could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.