Let me first start with a disclaimer, I am not suggesting RIM’s BlackBerry business is about to be destroyed. I just looked up information about all the major service outages by companies in the last 15 years, and found there seems a relation between a company’s fall from grace and outages to its services. All services have their outages, but some major ones can really cause inconveniences.
I wanted to point out three brands that never recovered after a major outage; which might give us an idea where BlackBerry is heading.
AOL’s Outage problems
Back in the mid 1990s, AOL was like Google and Facebook rolled into one for many internet users in the US. It was not into search but it was providing internet access along with email accounts. It was also a major player in the online instant messaging.
It was so iconic, that even Hollywood epitomised AOL’s new email alert in the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail”.
Then started the outages. The first one was in 1996, then another in 1998 and later in 1999. Users started moving to other email providers like Yahoo and Hotmail and today we see AOL as pretty much a media company, more than an internet services company.
MSN Messenger along with Yahoo Instant Messenger were the big boys of instant messaging after AOL saw downward growth. Hotmail was part of Microsoft and it obviously meant millions of email users could not chat on MSN Messenger.
In July 2001, MSN Messenger had an outage which almost lasted for a week. It was also saw an outage in 2003 and 2005.
MSN Messenger was never the force it was once before, and that is quite obvious that Microsoft chose to buy Skype for billions instead of ramping up Live Messenger.
Yahoo Mail Downtime
Yahoo has often been on a downward spiral for years. It did have an outage in April, 2011. This outage actually was not very crippling but it did impact over a million accounts. Today there are rumours the Yahoo is up for sale. Also it is pretty clear the Yahoo is not going to be a major internet company in the future.
Future of BlackBerry
This proves there is a link between service outage and success of a company. Most services have minor outages like, which could last a few minutes to a few hours. But when outages go on for days it shows that there is something drastically wrong with the company.
But all is not lost for RIM, as there are other services like Skype which had a major outage last year but still managed to keep most of its customers despite an outage that lasted several hours and days in some cases. Another case was when Gmail had an outage and even deleted some data of users but it manages to still remain competitive.
RIM is doing the right thing by offering some premium apps free, but it will need to improve not only its service but also roll out awesome handsets which are not getting overshadowed by iPhone and the Android based smartphones.