BlackBerry services go offline as servers fail

RIM's BlackBerry handsets have been left cut off from the web, email and BBM after an apparent server crash took phones in Europe, the Middle East and Africa offline. The fault began at roughly 11am today, and according to the BBC is being attributed to a datacenter in Slough, UK, responsible for the regions affected. RIM UK has said that it is "investigating" the problem, though has issued no timescale for fixing it.

In the meantime, BlackBerry owners have nothing but RIM's apologies to keep them comforted, rather than the regular buzz of emails dropping into their inbox and instant messaging conversations distracting them from the office or schoolroom. Text message remains functional at this stage, and carriers are blaming the Canadian company: both Bahrain operator Batelco and Vodafone Egypt have pointed the finger at RIM's servers, The Telegraph reports.

The timing of the outage is less than fortunate, with Apple's iOS 5 update fast approaching. That will bring iMessage to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, the company's new instant messaging service and a direct rival to BBM.