After BlackBerry outage, RIM offers $100 app bundle

BlackBerry users affected by last week's network problems are eligible for a bunch of free BlackBerry apps, RIM announced Monday.

BlackBerry users are eligible for $100 in free apps. Here, a pile of RIM BlackBerry phones.

Last week, the RIM network was laid low by the biggest outage in company history – a three-day blackout that left hundreds of thousands of BlackBerry users around the globe without access to e-mail or the Web. RIM initially blamed the problem on a hardware glitch, and the subsequent failure of a backup system, although some pundits have speculated that RIM reps still don't have a firm grip on what really brought the network crashing down.

At any rate, RIM has spent the past few days on what one blog called an "apology parade," using video messages and blog posts to reach out to disgruntled customers. The latest step: a bundle of "premium" apps, worth $100, made available to all BlackBerry users via the App World store. In a statement, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said the offer would open on Wednesday, and extend for a period of four weeks.

"We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience,” Lazaridis said. "We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence. We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again." Among the free apps being offered by RIM are the popular games Bejeweled and Sims 3 and the personal assistant app Vlingo Plus. Additional apps will soon follow, RIM says.

These are grim days for RIM, which has seen its shares in the smartphone market erode steadily (to say nothing of the widely panned PlayBook, RIM's entry in the tablet wars). Earlier this year, the company announced it would slash approximately 2,000 jobs worldwide, or about 10.5 percent of its workforce. "The workforce reduction is believed to be a prudent and necessary step for the long term success of the company," reps wrote at the time.

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