BlackBerry Out(r)age

Lots of pissed BlackBerry users today, all of whom are unhappy at a widespread outage yesterday on the popular mobile device’s email network. As only a recent & sometime BlackBerry user, I was hit by this last night, but my main reaction was a shrug, followed by hopping over to Gmail mobile, where all my mail funnels anyway.

While I understand the irritation and frustration, I also think this is a great reminder of the fundamental problems with the BlackBerry network. It is, in a word, too smart, with too much of the intelligence in the network, to the point that if the network wobbles, you are screwed. With a dumb pipe and smart devices, a la Gmail Mobile, such is not a problem.


  1. Re: dump pipe and smart devices…
    Like a Palm OS Treo running ChatterEmail! ChatterEmail supports push email with my personal IMAP account as well as my corporate Exchange server at work.
    No network (Blackberry-like) “push server” needed.

  2. it’s not that there is intelligence in the “network” per se but the fact that everything has to transit the network to the walled garden in waterloo – that’s the single point of failure in this equation.

  3. Right, that’s a good point Rob, but that is true for any email provider — there is eventually a single point somewhere. One difference with BlackBerry is that it’s at the network level, which takes away transport resiliency, something that the Internet does well.

  4. I think you’re trivializing the complexity of the service, and the number of things that happen “in the cloud” (push, compression, security, delivery confirmation, etc.) in RIM’s network, that none of the alternate solutions can provide today… certainly not GMail Mobile at this point.
    So, yeah, they had an outage that really pisses us (berry users) off, but we’re not going to en-masse switch to any of the alternate solutions, because frankly, they’re just not as good. Yet.

  5. Sure Sutha, but markets discount futures, not today, and they don’t care about all the sunk investment RIM has made in complex network infrastructure. Markets do care about what is an expensive and capital-consuming network that will eventually be seen as a valued-cutting albatross.
    As an investor, I’m looking five years out, not at today. The current dismissal of things like Gmail mobile is typical of attitudes toward something disruptive, and I love it. Because these fringe services provide a fraction of the functionality at a far lower price, causing it to be disrupted by incumbents and pundits as a toy — right up until the toys have a material share of the market and the pundits/incumbents are wondering what the hell happened.