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BlackBerry Blackout Reaches Third Day

Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Latin America affected
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BlackBerry users across the world are still reporting problems on Wednesday, after three days of disruption. Customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have been left without access to email, the Internet, and BlackBerry messaging (BBM) since Monday; by Wednesday, problems had spread to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and India.

BlackBerry’s maker Research in Motion (RIM) says the problem is caused by “a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure,” and that it has to clear a “large backlog” of data.

"Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

But fed-up customers have begun to vent frustrations at BlackBerry, both for the outage and for the lack of customer support.

British entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar, who fronts the U.K.’s version of The Apprentice, tweeted: "In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such an outage as experienced by BlackBerry. I can't understand why it's taking so long to fix."

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, has also voiced his irritation at BlackBerry’s “woeful” handling of the situation. "Day 3 of BlackBerry blackout. Some free advice. Explain while you fix. Apologise when you have. Recompense after. Handling so far woeful," Campbell tweeted.

Jokes doing the rounds on Twitter include “It was nice of BlackBerry to honour Steve Jobs with two days of silence" and “What did one BBM user say to the other? Nothing.”

The outage is more bad news for RIM, following news that it is being lined up for a takeover from Vodafone, as reported in The Independent last week.

Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, told the BBC that the latest outage is an unwelcome headache for RIM, which has been losing market share to Apple and Android devices.

"The current situation with the BlackBerry outages couldn't come at a worse time for RIM, following some harsh criticism in recent months," Saadi said.

He added, however, that BlackBerry users are unlikely to abandon their handsets just yet: "It will take more than just a couple of collapses to persuade loyal consumers of BlackBerry services to look for alternatives."