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BlackBerry service problems spread to North America, persist in rest of world for third day
NEW YORK (AP) ' Sporadic outages of BlackBerry messaging and email service spread to the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, as problems stretched into the third day for Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.
U.S. Twitter users were reporting that their BlackBerrys weren't getting email on Wednesday morning. In Canada, spokesman Mark Langton of the carrier Bell confirmed that some of its BlackBerry subscribers were experiencing problems.
"A minority of BlackBerry users at all Canadian carriers are affected," he said in an email. "We understand the issue will be corrected this morning."
The widespread problems added to the woes of Research In Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the phones. It's struggling with slowing sales and a tablet that's been a dud. Its shares are approaching a five-year low.
On Tuesday, RIM said a crucial link in its infrastructure had failed, and a backup didn't work either. It said it was now working to get through a backlog of traffic.
"The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels," the company said Wednesday.
In the United Arab Emirates, the two biggest phone companies said they would compensate their BlackBerry users for the mishap by giving them at least three days of free service. Matthew Willsher, chief marketing officer for Etisalat, the country's biggest telecom, said it was acting in response to the "exceptional and unprecedented circumstances."
Unlike other cellphone makers, RIM handles email and messaging traffic to and from its phones. When it encounters a problem, millions of subscribers are affected at once. There are about 70 million BlackBerry users around the world.
BlackBerrys first caught on among professionals in the U.S. and Canada, but in recent years, growth has been driven entirely by overseas markets. In RIM's most recent quarter, two-thirds of BlackBerrys were sold to people outside the U.S. and Canada.
One of the big attractions of the BlackBerry for overseas users is the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, which works like text messaging but doesn't incur extra fees. That service was affected by the outage. On Wednesday, Apple Inc. is releasing software for its iPhones that works like BBM. Competition from Apple is one of the chief causes of RIM's diminishing fortunes.
RIM shares fell 46 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $23.95 in morning trading in New York.
AP writers Rob Gillies in Toronto and Adam Schreck in Dubai contributed to this report.