UPDATE: BlackBerry smartphone email, texting and Internet are back to normal after four days of outages around the world.
The co-CEO of Research In Motion, the company behind the popular smartphone device, says that full services have been restored.
Mike Lazaridis launched a public campaign to apologize for the lengthy outage, speaking on a conference call and posting a video to the YouTube website promising further updates.
The company says a hardware failure caused a ripple effect in its system when a switch designed to protect its infrastructure failed.
The company says it will now look at compensation for its customers affected by the outages.
TORONTO - BlackBerry smartphone email, texting and Internet are back to normal after four days of outages around the world, but the co-CEO of the company behind the smartphone device says it's too soon to say whether the outage has been fully resolved.
Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) co-CEO Mike Lazaridis posted a video on YouTube on Thursday morning apologizing to customers.
"We're working very hard to continue to stabilize the system and we're seeing steady improvements," Lazaridis said in the message.
"We expect to see continued progress and possibly some instability as the system comes back to normal service levels everywhere."
Millions of users around the world have been affected by the company's biggest service outage in years.
The scripted video, in which Lazaridis spoke directly to the camera while wearing a black polo shirt emblazoned with the BlackBerry logo, was the first time that one of the company's co-CEOs has come out publicly to address the outage.
"I'd like to give you an estimated time of full recovery around the world but I cannot do this with certainty at this time," he said.
The Waterloo, Ont.,-based company has faced a barrage of criticism from some users after a crucial link in its European infrastructure failed Monday and its backup also failed, knocking many key services off-line.
Outages started in Europe, then spread to the Middle East, Africa and hit Canada on Wednesday. Parts of South America, as well as Asian markets including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and India were also affected.
Although the underlying issues have been repaired, the system had built up a backlog of emails and messages that needed to be wound down.
RIM has long been criticized for keeping customers in the dark over the status of its technical problems, but the company came under greater fire from users for their silence around the latest outage and for not quickly disclosing the reasons why their BlackBerrys suddenly stopped working.
"We know that you want to hear more from us and we're working to update you more frequently through our websites and social media channels as we gather more information," Lazaridis said.
A separate statement was also issued on the RIM website by the company's chief information officer, Robin Bienfait.
"We believe we understand why this happened and we are working to restore normal service levels in all markets as quickly as we can," he said. RIM had initially assured customers that its systems were back to normal after an outage affected Europe on Monday, but instead the problems spread to other countries, and eventually most of the world.
Lazaridis said in the video that it has been his goal to provide a reliable global communications service.
"We did not deliver on that goal this week, not even close," he said.
"For those of you affected, I know this is very frustrating."
Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it's been my goal to provide reliable real-time communication around the world. We did not deliver on that goal this week -- not even close.
I apologize for the service outages this week. We let many of you down. Let me assure you that we are working around the clock to fix this.
You expect better from us and I expect better from us. It's too soon to say that this issue is fully resolved but let me give you more detail to what is happening.
We're now approaching normal BlackBerry service levels in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. We continue to monitor the system very closely. We're working very hard to stabilize the system and we're seeing steady improvement.
We expect to see some continued progress and possibly some instability as the system comes back to normal service everywhere. We know you want to hear more from us and we're working to update you more frequently through our website and social media channels as we gather more information.
I'd like to give you an estimated time for a full recovery around the world but I cannot do this with certainty at this [time]. For those of you affected I know this is very frustrating. We're doing everything in our power to restore regular service levels and we're working tirelessly to restore your trust us. We'll update you again soon. Thank you.
BlackBerry users are venting their frustration, creating a #Dear BlackBerry meme in the process: