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How BlackBerry Outages Work

        Tech | Cell Phones

People are used to having constant access to e-mail on their BlackBerry smartphones: "Don't forget the bananas, honey!" See more pictures of essential gadgets.
Jeremy Liebman/Getty Images

What is the world coming to when three hours without e-mail access is breaking news? In April 2007 and again in February 2008, major news outlets jumped on reports of BlackBerry outages like tigers on a piece of fresh meat. Ten years ago, a "BlackBerry outage" might have referred to the local berry crop having a bad year, but now, it's big news.

These days, many people are familiar with the ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone, a souped-up cell phone with e-mail and Internet capabilities made by Research in Motion (RIM). BlackBerry outages, typically brief unscheduled interruptions in service due to things like software failures, are obviously not a matter of life and death, but they can be a major inconvenience for a 24/7 society. The outages are especially irritating to the many corporate types who rely on the device to improve their productivity.

BlackBerry outages can occur for several reasons: power failures, software bugs, viruses and critical component failures. Many of the BlackBerry service outages have happened as a result of glitches in upgrades. The number of BlackBerry subscribers now tops 14 million -- a far cry from the nearly 5 million customers the company reported two years prior [source: Reardon, Long]. That rapid growth can mean upgrades and, unfortunately, the occasional outage.

While some BlackBerry users get annoyed with the temporary outages, other customers have viewed them as a relief. Being constantly connected to e-mail isn't always easy; it has a way of disrupting that so-called work-life balance. The devices can be so addictive that they earned the nickname "crackberries," and users may even develop "BlackBerry thumb" from overuse.

In this article, you'll learn about the reasons behind some of the more significant BlackBerry outages and their effects. Find out why the BlackBerry network is susceptible to outages on the next page.