Last week, millions of BlackBerry smartphone owners weren’t able to access email or other messaging when a data center failure triggered outages across five continents.

In response, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion offered free apps and tech support — only to see its stock take a five percent dive on Monday.

“RIM has responded swiftly but this won’t undo the damage done to its reputation,” analyst Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight told Reuters. “This may go some way to appeasing customers but what’s critical is that the problem does not repeat itself.”

For years, BlackBerrys were the phones of choice for many business people. But as iPhones and Android devices have dented its market share, RIM has tried to recoup its losses by focusing on younger users and emerging markets.

The efforts have proved largely futile, though — RIM has shed more than 60 percent of its value since the beginning of the year, and the recent wide-scale outage has caused some of the company’s remaining users to question its reliability.

Richard Levick, who runs a consultancy firm specializing in crisis management, praised the giveaways but said RIM should have announced them last week.

“I think it’s a good start, but they are always late,” he said. “They are always behind the curve.”

[Reuters]