A logo of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion is seen on a building at the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo in this April 18, 2012 file photo. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)

Research in Motion says its systems are back up and running after an outage hit BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Reports of an outage first surfaced early Friday morning and were confirmed around 5 a.m. by a message on the company’s British Twitter account. A little over three hours later, the company sent another message saying that things were back to normal.

“Some users experienced issues with BlackBerry services today,” the tweet read. “Apologies for any inconvenience caused. All services now operating normally.”

It’s not clear how many people were affected by the outage. The Wall Street Journal reported that users across Europe, the Middle East and Africa couldn’t send or receive e-mails during the disruption.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the phone manufacturer.

The service problems didn’t last nearly as long as the massive outage that took down BlackBerry services in the U.S. and elsewhere last October for several days. But they come at a time when Research in Motion is trying to drum up excitement about its new operating system and stay afloat in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

The fact that headlines about the outage will appear alongside reports of Apple fans rushing to pick up the iPhone 5 surely doesn’t help RIM’s case.

The Canadian company has twice-delayed the launch of its system, BlackBerry 10, one of many sore points for company shareholders who took chief executive Thorsten Heins to task for the delays at a July meeting.

Heins, who became RIM’s CEO three months after the October outage, has defended his decision to set the system’s release date back. He has said he wants to make sure that it is working properly before the company sends it to customers. The system is due for a January 2012 launch, which Heins has said the company will follow quickly with new hardware releases.

“I won’t give you a specific date, but it’s kind of like a one-two punch,” he told CIO in July. “You will see more than two devices, but I can also tell you that you will see us being much more focused in the product portfolio that we will be bringing out.”

Research in Motion was trading nearly 2 percent down at the market’s open, at a price of $6.80 per share.

Relate d stories:

Microsoft, Research in Motion sign licensing deal

Samsung denies interest in RIM, BlackBerry10

Microsoft gets a new logo, for the first time in 25 years