For three long days this week, millions of Blackberry users worldwide were forced to seek alternate methods of accessing their e-mail as a result of a prolonged outage that impacted the network of Research In Motion (RIM). Trouble began on Monday for RIM, the manufacturer of the Blackberry wireless e-mail device, as a technical glitch affecting the Blackberry network caused widespread service disruptions throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Whereas users of the iPhone and other smart phones depend exclusively on the networks of their contracted wireless carriers to transmit and receive voice and data traffic, Blackberry traffic is transmitted through a secure worldwide network operated by RIM. (Affiliated wireless carriers, meanwhile, market Blackberry devices to their customers while providing billing and other managerial functions.) The snafu occurred at a most inopportune time for RIM, which, since January, has seen its stock price plummet by 60% as the iPhone and Android smart phones continue to gobble up market share. Although RIM told customers on Tuesday that the problem had been fixed, new disruptions quickly ensued that spread first to India and Latin America, then to North America, Singapore and Japan. By Thursday morning however, technicians were able to fully restore service worldwide although RIM officials acknowledged that some customers would experience delays in receiving e-mails as the company works to clear up backlogs. In remarks to the press, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazardis blamed the outage on a “core switch failure” at RIM’s suburban London data center that was exacerbated by malfunctioning back-up servers, admitting that technicians “don’t know why the switch failed in the particular way that it did.” As RIM global sales chief Patrick Spence pledged that RIM will overhaul its infrastructure to avoid future service disruptions, a spokesman for British wireless giant Vodafone said his company is “reviewing all options” with respect to compensating subscribers for lost service.