RIM offers free apps following service interruptions

Research In Motion says it will offer its BlackBerry subscribers a selection of premium apps for free to show appreciation for customers' patience during the recent worldwide service disruptions.

Research In Motion says it will offer its BlackBerry subscribers a selection of premium apps for free to show appreciation for customers' patience during the recent worldwide service disruptions.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company says the apps will be worth a total of $100 for each customer.

The list of apps provided with the announcement includes iSpeech Translator, which converts words spoken or typed into the phone into multiple languages. A variety of popular mobile phone games were also listed, including versions of the Sims, Bejeweled, Texas Hold'em Poker and Bubble Bash.

Outages for RIM email, texting and internet services began last Monday in Europe and spread to the Middle East, Africa and North and South America for varying lengths of time before services were fully restored on Thursday.

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The apps will be made available over the coming weeks on BlackBerry App World and will continue to be available until Dec. 31. RIM also says its enterprise customers will be offered one month of free technical support.

In a statement early Monday, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said the company is grateful to its loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience.

"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," he said.

RIM says the outage lasted three days in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, one and a half days in Latin America and Canada, and one day in the United States.

RIM hasn't calculated the price tag for last week's global BlackBerry email, text and internet outage, co-CEO Jim Balsillie said Monday.

Balsillie said the company also hasn't figured out the cost of offering 70 million consumer and corporate BlackBerry users $100 worth of free apps by way of apology — nor how that will impact its earnings.

"Our focus has been on those offers," he said of the free apps and one month of free technical support for business users.

"People could estimate all kinds of things. We just don't know right now," Balsillie told The Canadian Press.

BlackBerry has been struggling to compete with numerous other smartphones that have entered the market, including Apple's iPhone and several Android devices.

The company's share price has been beaten down steadily for months as RIM contends with a host of long-term factors, including the competition.

RIM's stock price slid more than five per cent Monday to close at $22.90, down $1.36 from Friday's close.

Earlier this year, Sony offered its customers a package of free PlayStation games for download, and other services, after its PlayStation Network was compromised by hackers that stole personal information from its users.