During the three-day outage last week that affected data services for millions of BlackBerry users, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) executives were focused first on getting services up and running before talking about compensation. Today the company finally came out with its first (and so far, only public) apology in kind: a selection of premium apps, which it will be giving away for free, including one that offers RIM users the closest experience they can get to the Siri voice assistant app on the new iPhone 4S that has caught the eye of so many people.
RIM has so far made no announcement on any direct financial compensation.
RIM says the apps, were they purchased as normal from its App World storefront, would cost more than $100 to download.
The promotion will begin on October 19 and will last either for four weeks or until December 31 — RIM has included both dates in the announcement. Presumably, what that means is that more apps will be added to the promotion, with each app’s free period lasting for four weeks, with a hard stop to the offer at the end of December.
RIM also noted a further olive branch in today’s announcement. Enterprise users will be receiving one month of free tech support; while existing tech support customers will get one month extra on their contracts.
So far, RIM has not made any public announcements about any financial compensation for users that were affected by the outage, which started with a switch failure in Slough, England, and then extended to all of EMEA, parts of Asia and Latin America and then the U.S., affecting data services such as email, messenger, and any service that used the Internet, from browsing to apps or any bespoke services on devices.
We have contacted RIM to ask about financial compensation and will update this post as we learn more. Enterprise users, in particular, may have had service-level agreements in place with RIM for their services, which may have financial compensation tied in to them on a case-by-case basis. Consumers (including small-business users) are less likely to have had such insurance policies in place. Nor is it clear whether any operators are offering compensation to users.
Here is the list of apps that RIM has so far announced for the free-app offer. It says it will be adding more:
‐¢ SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
‐¢ Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
‐¢ N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
‐¢ Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
‐¢ Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
‐¢ Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
‐¢ DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
‐¢ iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
‐¢ Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
‐¢ Nobex Radio™ Premium – Nobex
‐¢ Shazam Encore – Shazam
‐¢ Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo
What can we make of the list so far? For those who felt most wronged by the outage, a clutch of apps will most likely look like a trivial, and possibly weak, attempt at making things right. RIM is going for the ever-popular category of games, and taking a big bet (probably a safe one) that people are going to now be looking to download more voice apps on their devices, in the wake of the launch of the iPhone 4S and its now-viral interest in the new Siri “personal assistant” service. Of particular note is the Vlingo Plus Virtual Assistant, which is probably the closest that BlackBerry users can get right now to a Siri experience. Vlingo also works on the Android platform and comes pre-installed on some devices.