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After the worst service outage in its history last week, Research in Motion said Monday that it will try to appease its BlackBerry users by giving them free apps worth more than $100.
The BlackBerry brand has struggled to keep pace in the past few years with the influx of Apple’s flashy iOS phones and the swelling number of powerful Google Android devices. Add in a considerable outage that left tens of millions of BlackBerry owners without access to e-mail, web and messaging abilities and the company may be looking at a mass exodus.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis apologized via video for the horrific service disruption that spanned the globe last week, saying “We’ve let many of you down.” Lazaridis and RIM followed up on those comments Monday by saying the company would give all of its users free apps and give its valuable enterprise customers a free month of high-level technical support.
RIM’s other CEO Jim Balsillie told the Associated Press that the company is taking the outage very seriously and stressed the company’s customers would be shown their appreciation by the free applications.
“This is something we would like to offer as our form of thanks,” Balsillie said. “It’s a $100 worth of premium apps. It’s a substantial offer to our 70 million users around the world.”
The applications RIM plans to give away will appear in BlackBerry App World during the coming weeks, and the offer stands until the end of the year. The free apps include The Sims 3, N.O.V.A., iSpeech Translator, Bejeweled and Texas Hold’em Poker 2.
RIM will be holding a BlackBerry developer’s conference tomorrow in San Francisco, where the company is expected to introduce a major software update to its flailing tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. On top of that, the company will likely show off a prototype or two of its next-generation BlackBerry device that will run the new QNX operating system.
Even with a free application giveaway, the company is up against a strong tide of change. If RIM doesn’t wow its developer base — usually the most ardent of fans and critics — it will be hard for the company to recover its stance as a reliable and steady mobile manufacturer.