By Harry McCracken | Monday, October 17, 2011 at 1:42 am
After the worst BlackBerry outage ever–it affected customers around the world last week for up to three days–RIM is trying to make amends. It’s decided to let customers download a bunch of apps, worth more than $100, for free from the BlackBerry App World store.
Enterprise customers will also get a month of free tech support.
As I read that list, I suffer from pangs of cognitive dissonance. Corporate E-mail is important stuff, and delivering it reliably is utterly core to RIM’s mission and reputation. Free poker games feel like an off-topic way of making up for an e-mail outage. What would be more appropriate? Well, how about cash?
The timing of the outage and RIM’s response is particularly meaningful, because RIM is holding its developer conference this week in San Francisco. The conference comes after a long jag of lousy PR for the company–not just the outage, but also the dismal PlayBook launch, lukewarm reaction to new BlackBerry hones, and open questioning of the competence of RIM’s co-CEOs. Really, the last time when the company got any good PR was at last year’s DevCon, when the PlayBook was announced.
So let’s look on the bright side: This year’s conference is a great opportunity for RIM to begin a rebound. Maybe it’ll address the outage forthrightly and explain why it won’t happen again. Perhaps it’ll have news about a PlayBook II. It should reveal more about the first BlackBerries that’ll run the QNX operating system. I’ll be in the audience for the keynote, and I’d love to come away feeling good about the future of what was once one of the most innovative and successful companies in technology.