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Spreading BlackBerry Blackout Hits North America

"Bright side: a day without email!"

NEW YORK (The Blaze/AP) —For the past three days, BlackBerry has been experiencing widespread outages to its messaging and email service acorss Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. The problems reached U.S. and Canadian BlackBerry subscribers today.

On Tuesday, Research In Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the phones, said a crucial link in its infrastructure had failed, and a backup didn't work either. It said it was now working to get through a backlog of traffic.

"The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels," the company said Wednesday.

Unlike other cellphone makers, RIM handles email and messaging traffic to and from its phones. When it encounters a problem, millions of subscribers are affected at once. There are about 70 million BlackBerry users around the world.

Some like this CNN reporter welcome the silence radiation from their devices:

MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan also celebrated the silence:

The widespread problems added to RIM's woes. It's struggling with slowing sales and a tablet that's been a dud. Its shares are approaching a five-year low. RIM shares fell 46 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $23.95 in morning trading in New York.

Many of RIM's troubles is competition from Apple products -- the iPhone and iPad. Some Twitter users are chiding that the late Steve Jobs is causing the outage or that BlackBerry is honoring jobs by turning subscribers toward Apple products.

In the United Arab Emirates, the two biggest phone companies said they would compensate their BlackBerry users for the mishap by giving them at least three days of free service. Matthew Willsher, chief marketing officer for Etisalat, the country's biggest telecom, said it was acting in response to the "exceptional and unprecedented circumstances."

BlackBerrys first caught on among professionals in the U.S. and Canada, but in recent years, growth has been driven entirely by overseas markets. In RIM's most recent quarter, two-thirds of BlackBerrys were sold to people outside the U.S. and Canada.

One of the big attractions of the BlackBerry for overseas users is the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, which works like text messaging but doesn't incur extra fees. That service was affected by the outage.

One last thing…
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