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RIM breaks silence over BlackBerry Messenger, BIS

As the BlackBerry Internet Service and BlackBerry Messenger outage extends into its third day, Research In Motion has broken its silence to blame a faulty central switch for the failure of its entire communications infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the outage - as if there was any doubt - blaming hardware failure and inadequate failover systems for the prolonged outage.

"The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure," the spokesperson claimed. "Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.

"As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible," the spokesperson added. "We apologise for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed."

The outage, which now enters its third day, has been an embarrassment for the company. Many people commenting on our earlier coverage of the issue have expressed dissatisfaction with RIM's silence on the problem, and hinted at moves to rival smartphone platforms like Apple's newly-launched iPhone 4S or Google's Android.

While those platforms lack the messaging infrastructure of BlackBerry, it's only an advantage for RIM if the infrastructure can be relied upon. With this extended outage suggesting the company is struggling to keep its facilities lined up with its user growth, the company is going to have to work hard to convince users that it's back in control.

UPDATE 1335:

RIM's vice president of software and services, Rory O'Neil, has bad news for anyone hoping for a quick resolution to the continuing outage: the company's attempts to fix the issue have failed, and the problem appears to be spreading to BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) users. "We fixed the component parts and reloaded the BlackBerry service overnight and unfortunately when the service came back on this morning the component parts didn't respond in the way in which we'd hoped," O'Neil admitted to V3.co.uk today. "The core issue is the way in which our datacentres talk to each other in our network backbone and we have tried several remedies to fix this core switch technology and that's the piece we are still working through."

UPDATE 1430:

We're receiving reports that the problems are getting worse, with users in America now reporting intermittent problems with accessing BBM, BIS and BES services. At this point, the problem appears to have gone global - something which Research In Motion could do without on the day Apple is expected to launch its own BBM equivalent service, iMessage.

UPDATE 1443:

Research In Motion has issued another statement: "We know that many of you are still experiencing service problems," the company admits. "The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels."