When BlackBerry Disaster Strikes

  • Never forget 12.22.09

    No, it wasn’t a stock market crash. It wasn’t a celebrity death (but R.I.P. Brittany Murphy). It was, however, a very big deal if you are a BlackBerry owner in North America. Such users will never forget where they were when the BlackBerry communications system went down Tuesday, leaving them stranded and alone in the cold. They were without wireless e-mail and Web access, although normal voice services and text messaging continued functioning. As reported by CNN, “At one point, 100% of North American customers were affected.” The outage ended at around 2:45 a.m. Eastern Time and BlackBerry did not provide an explanation for the problem. Photo Credit: edans
    Larger trends
  • Larger trends

    Anne P. Mitchell, CEO and President of the Institute for Social Internet Public Policy, explained to us that society expects us to be connected 24/7, and when that doesn’t happen, people essentially freak out: “And it isn't just the users - employers, spouses, friends - are all used to being able to reach people by email *any time* - *any where* - because they know that they are carrying a device such as a Blackberry, and checking email constantly. This is actually a whole area of interest in HR and employer/employee relations right now - just *how* accessible is it reasonable for you to expect your employee to be when they are out of the office? When does it become unreasonable for your employer to contact you after hours via email - and are you obligated to respond because they know you have a Blackberry and are receiving your boss' email at 10:00 at night? In short, we have become a nation of people who expect - and are expected - to be connected to the Internet and to email 24/7, and when that expectation isn't met - and especially when it's due to a failure on the part of the service provider - people go haywire.” Don’t go haywire. You will survive—I promise. Believe it or not, business was actually conducted before the BlackBerry… J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie seemed to do all right without one. MainStreet wanted to hear from victims who were caught in the midst of the chaos: did it affect their work lives? Did it interfere with personal obligations? Here’s what some users, and a few experts, had to say about the connectivity crisis. Photo Credit: Editor B
    “It pissed me off”
  • “It pissed me off”

    Natalie, from Los Angeles, tried to put things in perspective: “I was pretty aggravated in regard to the outage yesterday. As one of countless others who conduct business on the move, my Blackberry has become a valuable piece of my communications pie. I initially thought it was an AT&T thing, but when I found out it was a Blackberry thing, it pissed me off because I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I guess if Blackberry was to go down, the slower time of the year like now, would’ve been the best time for it to happen. Glad it was fixed in short order.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    “Lack of concern”
  • “Lack of concern”

    Fred, from Michigan, may have lost work: “This is the second outage in a week. I am a freelance photographer and most of my assignments come via BB. When I spoke to my carrier (ATT) and asked if there are going to be service credits, they said ‘it's a RIM problem.’ My response is/was I have no relationship with RIM so no what? Honestly I am more angry with the lack of concern on part of the carriers than anything.” Photo Credit: yngrich
    “Impacted me both professionally and personally”
  • “Impacted me both professionally and personally”

    Samir, from New York, infers that the outage may have ruined Christmas: “Yesterday the Blackberry outage impacted me both professionally and personally. Professionally because I was visiting with clients and had to stop and find WiFi to get caught up on my lap top for last minute items for the meetings. Personally because in the evening I was doing Christmas shopping and couldn’t connect to do product research. Guess they started celebrating Boxing Day a little too early!” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    “Missed opportunity”
  • “Missed opportunity”

    Nancy, from Atlanta, makes an interesting point about marketing: “I am a BlackBerry user, and I wasn’t *angry*, as it was late in the day and there was very little I could do about it, but I did see a missed opportunity from my carrier’s side. I use T-Mobile for my service, and their customer service is spot on. But why can’t they text message me about a problem when it happens? It’s a missed marketing opportunity – if you ask me. T-Mobile knows that I use a BlackBerry; it knows my cell phone number; it knows that last night the only things working on my BlackBerry were the phone and text messaging. Why can’t they proactively reach out to their customers to let them know there’s a problem? Missed opportunity on their part, if you ask me.” Photo Credit: jugglerpm
  • “Disaster”

    Traci, from New York, owns a public relations firm, so you can just imagine how raging mad she was: “I rely on my blackberry when I’m on the go and another outage last night impacted my business while I was traveling home to Pennsylvania for the Holidays.  I had several emails that I had been waiting to hear back on for last minute features and a holiday push for my clients, and yet those messages were not received last night.  It really was a disaster.  Last week I was at my office, so was able to send / receive from my computer, but unacceptable when I’m out of the office.” Photo Credit: MattHurst
    “The break was nice”
  • “The break was nice”

    For Halie, a writer and stylist from Chicago, this might have been a life-changer: “My blackberry is one of the last things I see before going to sleep and probably the first thing I see every morning.  In a nutshell, I'm addicted. Actually, addicted is probably an understatement. The Blackberry outage just made me realize what life was before the constant vibration of 24 hour bbms, emails, facebook alerts, and twitter/tumblr/friendster updates. I was stuck playing brick breaker, composing text messages, and placing phone calls. However, I was not angry.I was only reminded me how great it feels to ‘unplug’ from technology, especially around the holidays. Obviously, waking up to an inbox full of emails was a huge relief but the break was nice for the time being.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • “Crippling”

    Bobbi, editor of FrugalDecadence.com, reminds us that these devices are so much more than phones: “Yesterday was a crippling day for me. I could not access my email, I could not blog, I could not surf the Internet, but maybe the worst was that I could not BBM. All I could do with my blackberry was text or call people. Using my phone for calling? It was a dark day.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    “What on God’s green earth…”
  • “What on God’s green earth…”

    Nan Palmero, a reporter at BlackBerryCool.com, though relatively unaffected, was at the center of the storm: “The outage wasn’t terribly awful to me yesterday since I was chained to my desk but I did receive a ton of tweets, facebook messages, calls and text messages asking me what on God’s green earth was going on.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    When chaos breaks out
  • When chaos breaks out

    In the event of another nationwide BlackBerry meltdown, MainStreet has some helpful reminders—along with some from BlackBerryCool’s Nan Palmero. First and foremost, remember that BlackBerry is not the only mode of communication available to our species. Should another black out occur, do not panic. Locate the emergency vocal cords in your throat that evolution has equipped you with. They will serve as your back-up until BlackBerry connectivity is restored. When using your vocal cords, it is customary to make eye contact with the other person, although this is not absolutely necessary. But what if you need to access information stored on the World Wide Web? Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Landlines, home computers
  • Landlines, home computers

    Landlines and hard-wired Internet connections will not be affected by a BlackBerry outage. If all else fails, check your Facebook inbox and Match.com profile from a work or home computer. This is highly undesirable, and primitive, but it’s better than nothing. And what about emails? Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Handling important emails
  • Handling important emails

    Send all important emails from a computer as well until service is restored. You can even add a signature line at the end “Sent using BlackBerry” so your message will appear urgent—and so that you will have a good excuse for unnecessary abbreviations or gratuitous typos. Plus it will impress the recipient… since everyone else’s BlackBerry is down, he or she will assume you are a stone-cold serious VIP if yours is the only one in the nation still functioning. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Socialize

    As Palmero explains, “Don’t completely ignore people in real life so you have someone to talk to next time there’s an outage.” His logic is sound. Maintaining a social circle of some sort will provide a useful safety net for when you can't log in to BBM or AIM; we all hate real-life parties and social gatherings, but I suppose they beat doing nothing at all... or browsing through the five photos of your dog (or cat!) saved on your BlackBerry. Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • Reproduce

    “Outages such as these can cause spikes in births 9 months down the road. It’s how Canada secretly controls the world,” Palmero explained. (BlackBerry is owned by Research in Motion, a Canadian company.) Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Take the kids to a movie
  • Take the kids to a movie

    As one BlackBerry user, Rich, told us: "Actually took time yesterday afternoon to take kids to see Avatar and the outage allowed me to really enjoy the movie, and time with them." See? The outage wasn't all bad. At least one person enjoyed time with his family because of it. Read our story about the best, and worst, cell phone companies. Photo Credit: Getty Images
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