BlackBerry offers free apps as apology for outage

CNN Wire Service

BlackBerry customers slammed by last week’s global outage are being offered free apps, not cash, as payback for their troubles.

At least a dozen apps, which would cost about $100 on the BlackBerry App World site, will be made available in the next few weeks, according to a statement released Monday by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

“We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers,” said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis in the statement. “We’ve worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we’re committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.”

An Oct. 10 failure at a data center caused outages in Europe and elsewhere, RIM said. RIM throttled service to help address the outage, which spread over the next few days to Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, Latin America and North America. Full service was restored on Thursday, according to the company.

The first ones will become available on Wednesday and they’ll stay free for the rest of the year. More apps will be added later, according to the statement.

Business customers also will be offered a free month of technical support.

The offer seemed to please at least some of BlackBerry’s roughly 70 million customers.

“Only 1 simple word for this… AMAZING!!!” wrote one visitor to a post on the BlackBery fan site, Crackberry. “I wasn’t expecting this at all, but it is welcome.”

“Trust restored RIM! … ,” wrote another. “This also tells you RIM is very, very serious with surviving. No giving up for them.”

But response was more measured among less-enthusiastic customers.

“What a useless ‘compensation’,” wrote one commenter on the website for London’s Guardian newspaper. “What [if] somebody uses their device for communications (e.g. e-mail) rather than using loads of apps? The value in apps is totally worthless.”

Many had been hoping to at least be reimbursed for the amount of time their service was out.

By comparison, after Sony’s PlayStation Network went down this spring, the company offered players free games, a weekend of free video rentals and a free month of PlayStation Plus, a premium subscription service offering exclusive titles, discounts and other perks. That PlayStation outage lasted the better part of a month for some customers.