Apple and BlackBerry storm as failures cause embarrassment

Last week both Research In Motion (RIM) and Apple suffered some embarrassing PR thanks to errors in their network and software respectively. Millions of BlackBerry users were denied access to email, Internet and BlackBerry Messenger after a router failure at RIM’s network operations centre. Meanwhile Apple users had issues downloading the new IOS 5 operating system with many encountering the “Error 3200” on their devices.

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Visits to the BlackBerry website increased by 66% last week as users looked for information on the network failure. Looking at the top search term variations of the word ‘blackberry’ for the week ending 15 October 2011, four of the top five search terms were related to the network problems. In total 11% of all BlackBerry searches that were made last week were directly associated with the outage problems.

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The issues that Apple experienced with the IOS 5 update were less problematic for its brand. The search data from last week shows that “ios 5 problems” was only the 12th most popular search term for IOS. In total negative keywords around IOS ‘error’ or ‘problems’ accounted for just 5% of the total IOS search volume.

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Part of the problem for RIM was that a lot of frustrations of BlackBerry consumers were vented on social networks causing more negative PR for the company. The search sequence screen shot below shows that 1.23% of searches within five steps of a search for ‘blackberry down’ were for ‘facebook’ and 0.88% of searches were for ‘twitter’.

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As compensation to customers affected by the BlackBerry outage, RIM announced today that users would be able to download $100 worth of apps for free from the BlackBerry App World. Last week total search volume for all App World searches increased by 3% and we would expect this to rise significantly throughout this week as users go online to claim their compensation.

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