Free apps for customers after BlackBerry crumble

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BlackBerry is offering its customers $100 worth of free mobile applications to help make amends for four days of service disruptions.

Users in the UAE were among millions of subscribers hit globally, after a failure at a UK-based data centre last week brought down email, internet and BlackBerry Messenger services.

This led to widespread complaints from consumers, some of whom said they would switch to rival handsets like the iPhone, amid warnings by analysts that Research In Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry device, could be toppled by the technical fault.

Perhaps the only good news was that the disruption of BlackBerry services - and a corresponding reduction in motorists texting while on the road - reportedly led to a decrease in road accidents in the UAE.

RIM said today that it was offering free mobile applications to subscribers in a bid to make amends.

"A selection of premium apps worth a total value of more than US $100 will be offered free of charge to subscribers as an expression of appreciation for their patience during the recent service disruptions," the company said in a statement.

Downloads will be available from October 19 until the end of the year. The selection of free apps includes games such as SIMS 3 and Bejeweled, tools such as iSpeech Translator Pro, and music apps like Nobex Radio Premium and Shazam Encore.

RIM also said it was offering its enterprise customers one month of free technical support.

Whether company's offer acts to stem the potential defection of customers to rival device manufacturers remains to be seen. And RIM still has to tackle how it will compensate its carrier partners such as Etisalat and du, which offered separate compensation packages to subscribers.