The Great BlackBerry Blackout of '07

Posted on April 19, 2007

The New York Times chronicles the terror and despair during the dreadful ten hours that RIM's BlackBerry service was on the fritz. Many people were so used to relying on their BlackBerries that when emails stopped coming in they panicked and assumed the very worst.

The BlackBerry blackout was grueling to many � and revealed just how professionally and emotionally dependent so many people had become on their pocket-size electronic lifelines. Stuart Gold was in Phoenix on a business trip when the service went down. Mr. Gold, the marketing director for Omniture, a software firm, noticed ominous red X�s next to his outgoing e-mails. He is not proud of what happened next.

"I started freaking out," he said. "I started taking it apart. Turning it off. Turning it on. I took the battery out and cleaned it on my shirt. I was running around my hotel like a freak. It�s very sad. I love this thing."


Many people thought they were suffering alone. Lynn Moffat believed she had administered a fatal blow to her BlackBerry by dropping it early Tuesday in Grand Central Terminal. When Ms. Moffat, the managing director of the New York Theater Workshop, learned on the radio that the service disruption was widespread, "I was so relieved it wasn't just me, but all my BlackBerry brothers and sisters," she said.

Others cycled through complex waves of emotion, including a bit of paranoia. Zach Nelson, chief executive of NetSuite, a software firm, was entertaining his top sales representatives in Barbados when e-mail from his 600 other employees suddenly stopped arriving on his BlackBerry. "I started thinking people hadn't shown up for work as a revolt for us going to the Caribbean," he said.

And don't even get us started on how terrifying it was not to be able to Twitter remotely from our BlackBerries for several hours. We're still having nightmares about it. Although our thumbs are amazingly rested.

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