Research In Motion (RIM) announced today that it is offering consumers £65 worth of free premium apps in compensation for the three days of service disruptions last week. Enterprise customers are being offered one month of free Technical Support.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said: ‘Our global network supports the communications needs of more than 70 million customers. 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.
In an interview with Mobile today, Stephen Bates, MD of BlackBerry UK (pictured) said: ‘We have announced that the offers are being made to customers as an expression of appreciation for their patience during the recent service disruptions. The first apps on offer will become available to download from BlackBerry App World from Wednesday 19 October and will continue to roll out for a period of four weeks. The apps will be available until 31 December 2011.'
The selections over this period will include the following (with more to come):
• 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
• DriveSafe.ly Pro - iSpeech.org
• iSpeech Translator Pro - iSpeech.org
• Drive Safe.ly Enterprise - iSpeech.org
• Nobex Radio™ Premium - Nobex
• Shazam Encore - Shazam
• Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant - Vlingo
Bates explained that current enterprise customers will be offered a complimentary one month extension of their existing technical support contract, while customers who do not currently have a Technical Support contract will be offered a one month trial of RIM’s BlackBerry technical support Services – enhanced support – free of charge.
They can at register at www.blackberry.com/enterpriseoffer to sign up for the offer.
'Premium apps are the most sought after,’ said Bates, ‘so what better way to thank customers than by offering as many of those as we can. On the technical support – it gives enterprise customers a very tight connection into BlackBerry, where we can track faults, manage their service status and make them aware of issues coming up and provide them with fast response.’
Bates said that a full cause analysis into last week’s outage is underway. The problem was caused by the failure of a switch in its core network in Slough. Lazaridis announced this morning that a root and branch assessment of the network’s full architecture led by RIM’s CTO for software David Yach was also underway.
He added that he was not aware of any discussions over possible compensation to the network operators or customers who felt the outage had lost them business. Bates said: ‘We are talking to the networks, they have been very supportive and we are having a very positive dialogue with them.’
Addressing users’ frustration at the lack of information during the outages, Bates said: ‘I understand the frustration over communication. This was the worst service issue in our 12 year history in terms of its scale and intermittent nature. It made it very difficult for us to find out what was going on and communicate it to people.
‘We do give carriers and our key corporate customers updates, but it took a long time to get to the root core of the issue so updates were confined to: “We still don’t know”.’
Asked how RIM would restore confidence and trust in its service, Bates replied: ‘The 70 million subscribers globally and seven million in the UK, have chosen us because of the real-time performance service that is unique to BlackBerry. So we must maintain very high levels of availability, ensure the stability of the network and then if we can keep delivering that real time communication service we will regain their trust and confidence.’
Bates believes the new range of BlackBerry 7 devices just coming out, which provide a slicker and faster browser experience, along with new services such as BlackBerry Protect, will help RIM regain that trust.
‘Looking ahead, we think that the uniqueness that our architecture brings is that we can innovate on the shared app experience via BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). Gaming, music and the mobile commerce world are all coming to BlackBerry. We will innovate by using socially aware commerce,’ said Bates.
He insisted that tablets are still a very important part of RIM’s portfolio despite relatively poor sales of its first tablet, the PlayBook.‘There’s a big software update 2.0 coming to PlayBook, which will provide native email, console support and will add significantly to the functionality of the PlayBook. The 4G variant is coming through the pipeline. It is also our first device on the new QNX platform so we are taking a lot of learning from it to go into the first QNX smartphones, which will come through next year.’
Bates added: ‘We are the No.1 smartphone manufacturer in the UK. All the carriers and major retailers are pushing BlackBerry. We have a very healthy distribution, so we are pleased to be in this position and we are gearing up for what we hope will be a fantastic Christmas.’