updated 02:40 pm EST, Thu December 17, 2009
BlackBerry loses e-mail, non-MS search
Research in Motion encountered major setbacks today after it confirmed an ongoing, widespread failure in its e-mail system. A BlackBerry Information Service (BIS) outage is leading to stalled e-mail at most North American carriers for individual users. Company representatives say the problem is being addressed but don't yet have a timeframe for when the issue should be fixed.
Businesses that use a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which operates partly independently of RIM's main e-mail system, aren't necessarily affected by the issue. However, these currently form less than half of RIM's active user base, leaving the majority of users without messages.
Additionally, Verizon subscribers at the carrier's forums and elsewhere report that the web browsers on their phones have suddenly lost all search options outside of Bing, preventing them from searching Google or others without browsing to the website in question. The change comes a month after Verizon struck a deal with Microsoft to use Bing for search, but it's not clear whether or not the move is an attempt to force a single engine on customers or unintentional.
Verizon hasn't yet had an opportunity to comment.
Both failures come ill-timed for RIM, which is on the verge of supplying its latest quarterly results and is depending on strong sales to fend off a likely surge in iPhone 3GS sales. It has most often depended on deals with many more carriers to bolster its market share but, as a consequence, has had to relinquish some control of its operating system and branding.