Reports indicated the service went down around 3 a.m. EST, possibly as a result of a maintenance check, and impacted users throughout the U.S. and Canada.
RIM stated later in the day that full service to its BIS network had been restored, but that users might still experience a slowdown as it catches up with e-mails sent during the shutdown.
"Some customers may still experience delays as e-mail queues are processed," RIM said in a statement. "RIM is continuing to investigate the cause of the issue and apologizes for any inconvenience," the company said.
The outage hit Blackberry services offered by numerous carriers, including Sprint Nextel, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Canada's Rogers. The trouble appeared to be limited to RIM's consumer-oriented Internet service, and did not affect corporate users who send messages through a BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
"Phone services, browsing and PIN-to-PIN messaging are not impacted," a RIM spokesperson told The Toronto Star.
Some e-commerce sites actually tried to turn the outage into a profit opportunity. Crackberry.com, which offers an assortment of BlackBerry accessories, held an "e-mail outage sale."
Some users on the site's forum, however, were less than impressed with RIM.
"It feels like almost a monthly occurrence that I see BIS outages reported," wrote forum member DrewDT. "Isn't e-mail reliability one of the cornerstone's of BlackBerry's reputation and success?" wrote the member.
Posts on the forum indicate that the outage may even have spread to South America, as one user reported that service was unavailable in Caracas, Venezuela.
Investors shrugged off the news, as shares of RIM were off just .45%, to $68.08, in late-day trading Thursday.
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