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Irony to RIM's major outage

BlackBerry goes down as iPhone rises

Research In Motion's reputation, and its shares, took another hit on Friday after the BlackBerry maker suffered an embarrassing service outage, the same day that Apple's new iPhone launched in stores.

Analysts were quick to note the bad timing of the outage on three continents, but they also said it's another reason to doubt RIM's ability to stay competitive in the demanding smartphone market.

"Oh, the irony of that," said William Blair & Co. telecom analyst Anil Doradla. "This is not a piece of news that they can afford, they need or they want at this time."

RIM's next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphones won't make their debut until early next year, missing this year's holiday sales season. The new phones were supposed to launch last year giving the Waterloo, Ont., company few new products to sell.

"With every passing quarter that they delay the launch of the new product, they continue to lose market share," Doradla said.

The BlackBerry outage affected email and text users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for a maximum of three hours, RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins said.

"I want to apologize to those BlackBerry customers in Europe and Africa who experienced an impact in their quality of service earlier this morning," Heins said.

Heins, who noted no data or messages were lost, said RIM was looking into the problem and would report the results of its investigation.

Up to six per cent of RIM's user base may have been impacted, Heins estimated. "Preliminary analysis suggests that those customers may have experienced a maximum delay of three hours in the delivery and reception of their messages," he said.

RIM announced the BlackBerry outage in postings on Facebook and Twitter before the business day got fully under way in North America.

Shares in RIM narrowly missed hitting a new oneyear low on Friday. Shares were down 7.4 per cent, or 50 cents, closing at $6.25, coming within a penny of a 52-week low of $6.24 set on Sept. 6. The stock has taken a beating as RIM's product lineup falls behind rival products.