BlackBerry and phone networks worldwide were forced to apologies to tens of millions of customers yesterday, as a server crash in Slough caused the loss of internet data, email and BlackBerry Messenger.
The crash occurred at around 11am Monday at a Slough, UK, data centre owned by BlackBerry manufacture Research in Motion (RIM) and disrupted service to tens of millions of users all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa,
RIM has yet to release a full statement about the problem, but a number of tweets were issued from various mobile networks; T-Mobile UK said: "There is an issue with BlackBerry services at present. RIM are investigating this at present."
At around 3:30pm RIM tweeted: "some users in EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] are experiencing issues," and Batelco, a phone network in Bahrain, said: "Please note the issue with Blackberry service is effecting [sic] all of Bahrain, and it is dealt with by BlackBerry providers in Canada."
Unlike other mobile phones, BlackBerry handsets send and receive information via the company's encrypted servers, this allows for a more secure data connection, which has led to BlackBerry phones becoming the default choice for many businesses, but the data outage yesterday highlights the problems with operating such a system.
The Guardian has reported that a former RIM employee has contacted the newspaper to say that RIM has been "ignoring problems with its server architecture that could prove its downfall for years.
"They didn't start looking at scalability until about 2007, when they had around 8m active devices. The attitude was, 'We're going to grow and grow but making sure our infrastructure can support it isn't a priority'."
The former employee continued: "They have their own clunky infrastructure to do something that you don't really need a clunky infrastructure to do anymore."
Many angered BlackBerry users turned to Twitter yesterday to voice their complaints, with some even suggesting that the network was deliberately turned off.
This comes just two months after the London riots, which saw MPs suggest that Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger should be turned off during times of crisis; MPs went as far as to suggest that BBM users organised and encouraged the riots which swept across English cities in August.
BlackBerry, Twitter and Facebook firmly rejected these suggestions, with Twitter stating that it would be an "absolutely horrible idea" and added that "Even the police forces are saying it's not a good idea."
In the wake of the riots UK police requested for message logs from BlackBerry to try and prosecute BBM users who were involved in the widespread criminal damage and looting which took place. The request encouraged hacker group Team Poison to allegedly target BlackBerry's blog; the hackers are claimed to have penetrated the company's network and threatened to release information taken should RIM continue to work with the police.