x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

BlackBerry users consider switching phones

Instant message and email users frustrated by the sound of silence.

DUBAI // As BlackBerrys went dark for a third day on Wednesday, users tried to deal with missing a service many consider to be an essential part of life.

They complained of disruptions in business communication and misunderstandings with friends, and some were looking at ditching the service altogether.

The disruption, which affected Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, started the same day Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (Rim), told an audience in Dubai the company had seen "explosive growth" in the Middle East over the past year.

"I'm sick of BlackBerry," said Utpal Bhattacharya, 45, a consultant from India. "There seems to be constant problems. I've stopped using it now and I'm looking for a different phone."

Hanan Marafie, from the UK, who works in media, said the service cuts had been a "pain in the neck".

"It's a complete nightmare," Ms Marafie said. "It's been affecting my work. I will receive 20 emails in a row in the morning from the previous night."

She normally uses BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which allows users to send each other free messages, to communicate with her family.

Etisalat yesterday sent text messages to BlackBerry users telling them the fault was global and that Rim was working to restore normal service.

Ryan Walpole, a finance worker, said the message was a little late but he appreciated it. Mr Walpole said when the disruption began on Monday it led to some misunderstandings.

"When it first went down I thought that people weren't replying," he said. "So it was a bit of an issue at first. Once I found out that it was widespread it was OK.

"It's a bit extreme to say that you're cut off from the world because of it. You can always text or call someone."

Gelyn Daln, 21, who is from the Philippines and works in advertising, uses her BlackBerry for social networking.

"It's a real pain," Ms Daln said. "I can't connect to Facebook or Twitter. I was considering getting an iPhone instead but I thought that if I just left it, it would sort itself out."

Vijaya Bali, 27, from India, said her BlackBerry was crucial for her work: "The BlackBerry is excellent but this disruption has been very inconvenient.

"We normally use BBM to organise a lot of meetings. At first we didn't realise what was happening. Now we've switched to text messages."

Abdulrahman Mohammed bin Hindi, 24 an Emirati IT engineer on call 24 hours a day, said: "Sometimes if we receive an email we need to react immediately. That makes the service disruptions a bit annoying.

"BlackBerry messenger is down too, which stops communication with friends. But it's not that important."

Not all BlackBerry users have been inconvenienced by the service disruptions.

"I haven't noticed any problems," said Anu Singhchatterjee, 38, from India, who works in media.

"I'm not a very techie person, so I only use the very basic services."

mcroucher@thenational.ae