Cape Town - The failure of a backup switch was the major reason why BlackBerry users were cut off from their email and messaging services for two days, according to a statement issued late on Tuesday by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM).
The statement, the first indication of what caused the communications blackout, said: "The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure.
"Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested.
"As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible."
The RIM statement concluded by offering an apology for the inconvenience caused and with a promise to keep its customers informed.
The crash of the BlackBerry email and messenger services began on Monday and lasted for close to 24 hours, with little in the way of an explanation as to what caused the failure.
Cellular network operators initially carried the brunt of the blame by angry end users.
"The failure of the services certainly impacted our customers and we had to field a lot of calls through a contact centre and via our social media platforms.
"But they then realised it was a BlackBerry issue and not a network issue. All we could do was keep them informed as best we could," said Cell C corporate spokesperson Karin Fourie.
Social media networking site Twitter.com was flooded with comments, complaints and tongue-in-cheek observations about the BlackBerry crash and the fact that its biggest rival Apple's iPhone was still operating.
One comment said: "All we need now is for iPhones to start playing up and we'll have the dream headline: Blackberry & Apple crumble.
Another, referring to the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. said: "It's very thoughtful of BlackBerry to honour Steve Jobs by having two days silence."