Update: BlackBerry CTO: No evidence a hack caused RIM outage

RIM pledging to work "night and day" to solve problem that has lasted three days

Update (330pm EST): David Yach, Research in Motion’s software CTO, acknowledged in a conference call at 3pm EST that the company began seeing service outages starting this morning and said that they have since continued throughout the day.  Yach did not give a timeline for when BlackBerry services would be fully restored, but assured users that the company was working non-stop on the problem and said that there was no evidence that the outage was caused by a breach or a hack into RIM’s network. The BlackBerry outage that started Monday in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has now spread to North America.

Many North American BlackBerry users took to Twitter this morning to report that they were unable to access their email or send text messages from their BlackBerry devices.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also reported that some Canadian users had stopped receiving texting and email services on their BlackBerry devices.

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Among those hit by the outage was NPR financial correspondent Heidi Moore, who said via Twitter that she hadn’t received any email on her device since 8:30 a.m. today.  She also vowed that she would be "signing up for a new iPhone" on Friday in response to the outage.  Rob Lazerow, a senior consultant at the Washington DC-based Advisory Board Company research and consulting firm, also reported having no access to BlackBerry data services this morning and noted that both the BlackBerry Internet Service and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server were down.

As of 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, Research in Motion had yet to acknowledge that the outage had spread to North America on its Service Update page.  RIM acknowledged Tuesday that the outages experienced by European, Asian and African users were caused by "a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure."  Apparently, RIM’s system failed to activate a backup switch when one of its core switches went down, thus creating a "large backlog of data" that the company is trying to clear out.  RIM has given no definitive timeline of when its data services will be back online and has only said it will restore services "as quickly as possible."

The three-day outage comes at a bad time for RIM, which has steadily lost market share in the smartphone market to both Apple’s iPhone and devices based on Google’s Android operating system.  The company is expected to launch a slew of devices in coming months based on its QNX platform that it hopes will be in better position to compete with the top-line smartphones.

Twitter users continued to pound RIM throughout the day, as this sampling of comments shows:

*@teacheyd Thank you, #blackberryoutage. Wasn't enough that I feel like I'm using an abacus in comparison to an iPhone or Droid

*@jeremyschultz: BlackBerry is honoring Steve Jobs's death with a three-day silence

*@epross: This is the most buzz RIM has had in 3 years

*@OKnox: Wow, this iPhone 4S launch is pretty aggressive

*@amalesh I think there will be new records set on #BrickBreaker today

*AshleySFlintoff Thanks to the #blackberryoutage I now have TWO paperweights on my desk. Remind me why I don't have an iPhone again?

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