BlackBerry Network Crashes Again, Giving Apple Potential Edge

The international network run by Research In Motion (RIMM) to support its BlackBerry smartphone partially crashed late Dec. 22. It was also down a week before. The company released a statement saying that its customers in North and South America "are experiencing delays in message delivery. Technical teams are actively working to resolve the issue for those impacted."%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%The BlackBerry has had most of its success in the business smartphone market and has only recently become aggressive in selling new products to consumers. Business customers rely on the BlackBerry as "a mobile PC" that performs critical functions, including email and Web-browsing. When the RIM network is down, thousands of businesses lose a critical communications system. Network reliability is vital to RIM's reputation for providing seamless service for BlackBerry users.

Research In Motion's network problems are almost certain to benefit Apple (AAPL). The tech giant began marketing its iPhone to consumers when the product was launched, but it has recently started to aggressively target the business market. Many of its nearly 200,000 applications at the Apple App Store are designed to improve productivity for corporate users. Apple may have been fighting an uphill battle against the entrenched BlackBerry, but each time the RIM network goes down, the battle becomes a little easier.

RIM may not lose customers because of a lack of features or functions for the BlackBerry, but problems with the company's network could hurt the company more than it knows.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.
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