BUSINESS

BlackBerry outages persist into third day

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NEW YORK (AP) - Messaging and email service was still sporadic Wednesday for BlackBerry users in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, as outages stretched into their third day.

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.

Also Wednesday, Canadian users started reporting service outages, leaving the U.S. as the only major country that's unaffected.

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.

RIM shares were down 11 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $24.30 in premarket trading in New York.

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