Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BlackBerry -- too monolithic?

Well, I don’t have a blackberry, because I’m not mobile enough to need it all the time. When I was substitute teaching, one kid with handwriting problems was allowed to use it for assignments, from which he printed his reports. Businesses and governments claim that they have become dependent on their being always on, so an outage is a bit like cutting the transatlantic cable a century ago, or cutting a telegraph line in Jesse James ‘s era, or even the recent Internet outage around the Indian Ocean.

The outage Monday Feb 11 is said to have lasted about three hours, with no content lost, and with voice and text messaging services undisturbed. News report indicate that it took much longer for users to restore service.

The Canadian company Research in Motion has not yet provided much explanation for what happened. There was a similar incident in April 2007.

But the incident does underscore the need for competition in all phases of Internet service delivery.

The AP story February 12 is by Jordan Robertson, “BlackBerry Outage Frustrates Users Again.” Link is here. Right now, users don’t seem to have much choice. Later information indicates that the BlackBerry outage was caused by an upgrade (or "promotion" or "elevation", the terminology used in I.T. shops) that broke something. These changes can be very difficult to test.

I have to admit, when I’m out on foot, it would be nice for it to be easier to check my own email and domains. I usually wait until I get home or near a Kinkos (or maybe the Pop Stop in DC). It’s not practical to carry a laptop all the time, or to bother with them in airports. Motel business centers are not that safe or reliable. Not too efficient.

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