Research In Motion has decided that a few free apps will ease customer pain over widespread BlackBerry outages last week.
RIM claimed in an Oct. 17 statement that the apps would be available over the coming weeks on BlackBerry App World. The 12 apps listed so far include games such as Sims 3 and N.O.V.A., along with Photo Editor Ultimate, iSpeech Translator Pro, and Shazam Encore. The company promises more to come; in addition, enterprise customers will apparently receive a month of free technical support, and current customers will be offered a complimentary one month extension of their existing Technical Support contract.
For much of the previous week, RIM wrestled to contain a global outage of BlackBerry service. The situation seemed under control by Oct. 13, when RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis told media and analysts on a conference call that immediate and aggressive steps were being taken to minimize the risk of this happening again. Both Lazaridis and co-CEO Jim Balsillie insisted that RIM would work to regain customers trust following the incident.
The outages smacked RIM at a turbulent moment, with the company undergoing what its executives refer to as a transition period. In the face of declining revenues, RIM is betting big on an upcoming generation of QNX-based superphones that will apparently offer hardware and software parity with the company s higher-end competitors. Until those devices hit store shelves, RIM hopes that a new line of BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 7 OS will help it retain market share, even as Google Android and Apple s iOS poise an increasing challenge to RIM s traditional user base.
During the early part of the BlackBerry outage, analysts criticized RIM s response.
"The extent of the outage has been and continues to be shocking," Stephen Mann, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in an Oct. 12 posting on his corporate blog. Moreover, he added, RIM's communications with customers have been lacking and one could argue that their tone has been terse--a far cry from customer-focused.
Another argued that RIM's declining market-share among business users had changed the tone of customer response to the outage.