March 01, 2010, 2:24 PM — In the aftermath or Saturday's massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile, Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was, in some cases, the only reliable means of wireless communication. General cell-phone-service and Internet were unavailable in certain quake-ravaged areas due largely to downed power lines, but BBM service, which employs unique wireless infrastructure to route messages, helped keep Chileans connected with the rest of the world, according to the Miami Herald.
Cristian Gleboff, a 30-year-old Miami resident, told the Herald that though he was unable to reach relatives in Chile via phone-call or Skype, BBM came through in a pinch.
"I tried reaching my family through Skype and via telephone for hours, but it was impossible and I gave up," Gleboff informed the Herald. "I could talk to all of them through BlackBerry Messenger."
Both Twitter and Facebook, two popular social networks, were also largely unavailable due to the Internet outages, according to reports.
A Guardian.co.uk article suggests that BlackBerry service was down in Concon, Chile, though it's unclear if the writer was referring to cell-phone-service via BlackBerry or BBM itself.
BBM employs RIM's unique BlackBerry servers to distribute "PIN" messages between BlackBerry users, circumventing some traditional cell-phone infrastructure, so BBM can be available while other forms of cell communication are down.
RIM's BlackBerry platform and the associated BBM service received acclaim shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks on NYC in 2001, because BBM and BlackBerry PIN messages were one of the only reliable ways for first-responders and others on scene to communicate after cell service went down.
Since then, the U.S. government has become one of RIM's largest customers, investing heavily in BlackBerry devices for thousands of government workers.
Check out my BBM Best Practices post for more on RIM's BlackBerry Messenger.