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AT&T Crippling BlackBerry for iPhone?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the new-sheriff-in-town dept.

Handhelds 211

0xdeadbeef writes "BlackBerryCool got a tip that not only was AT&T removing GPS functionality from their version of the BlackBerry 8820, they're doing it so it won't show up the iPhone. While carriers crippling phones to stop them from competing with pay-per-use services is nothing new, this might be the first time they've done it to make their other products seem less diminished."

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211 comments

sigh... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279565)

The new AT&T feels alot like the old AT&T.

Re:sigh... (0, Offtopic)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280809)

I've got a 7130e from Sprint. GPS is completely unlocked so I can use Blackberry Maps for real-time maps and speed information. I can also use InfoSpace FindIt! for turn-by-turn spoken directions. I also have google maps that for some reason doesn't support the internal GPS but will support a Bluetooth GPS that has been associated with the phone. I wonder if users will be able to use Google Maps with their 8820 and an external GPS? Anyway all are free services. Which is strange considering since Sprint bought Nextel (who pretty much exclusively GPS enabled phones) you'd think they'd want to you to pay for TeleNav service.

Q: What do you get when you cross Apple and AT& (3, Funny)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279581)

A: AT&T

Yeah, I know: old joke. Used to be IBM instead of AT&T. But this story just proves it again! It's funny because it's true.

-Don

Q:What do you get when you cross NCR and AT&T? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280243)

Oh, the irony of those who've seen something too similar with NCR (before/after the trainwreck called AT&T GIS).

Your sig betrays you as an idiot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20281093)

Nifong got what he deserved.

Or, more generally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280355)

If you add a teaspoon of wine to a barrel of sewage, you get sewage.

If you add a teaspoon of sewage to a barrel of wine, you get sewage.

Wow (0)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279601)

That's pretty sucktacular.

It also doesn't make any sense. iPhone is manifestly NOT a business device, by design. Blackberry does not compete with iPhone.

Apple need to get less paranoid.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279681)

Someone may be jumping the gun here. Wouldn't an AT&T/Telenav deal make more sense than an Apple/AT&T deal here?

I am going to hold off before taking a blogger's word that this move is iPhone related in the least. Telenav is now the exclusive 3rd party GPS app for the AT&T offering... follow the money.

Regards.

RTFA (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281503)

Apparently - and remember, this is coming from someone inside AT&T - the carrier didn't want to launch a device that would seem superior (or be competitive) to the iPhone.
Suggesting that someone is lying is no small accusation. If you have some evidence then post it, otherwise you're just spreading FUD.

Re:Wow (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279777)

Where in the story did you come up with the "Apple needs to be" - as far as I can see, Apple has nothing to do with this as it is a carrier decision.

I doubt Apple gives a hoot, they know they can sell with the hype - there are other devices that blow iPhone away in terms of different services - mainly those offerings from Nokia and Samsung for example.

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279843)

AT&T is upset because the vast majority of people couldn't care less about the iPhone. They did costly upgrades to their network in order to be the sole provider of iPhone service in the US, and they honestly thought they were securing a phone that everybody would immediately run out and buy. Now that most of the hype has died down, and it's become clear that most people don't really care about yet another cell phone, they're attempting to make more demand for the iPhone by any means necessary.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280497)

AT&T is upset because the vast majority of people don't want a crippled iPhone. They did costly upgrades to their network in order to lock people into crippled iPhone service in the US, and they honestly thought people would buy a crippled phone with overpriced, crippled service. Now that most of the hype has died down, and it's become clear that most people aren't as stupid as everyone likes to assume they are, they're attempting to make more demand for the iPhone by crippling everyone else's phones too.


There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280795)

AT&T may be crippling other phones, but Apple alone crippled the iPhone. Also, the service prices for the iPhone are comparable to other phones with similar plans, and the service is hardly crippled when compared with any other service that is currently available in the US. So unless your definition of "fixing a comment" includes altering it to include lies and blatant exaggerations in order for it to fit your distorted perception of reality, you really didn't fix anything.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

godawful (84526) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280189)

I thought it was AT&T hindering the device not apple, so why do they need to be less paranoid?

Actually this all seems silly to me. Silly if true, I should say. I bought an iphone because I liked it, some other phone having gps isn't going to make me like it less.

Posted from my iPhone

Re:Wow (1, Flamebait)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281075)

Of course, now that you've drank the koolaid, nothing's gonna make you like the iphone less. Unless... you puke up all that liquid. You might want to consider that option.

USA - rest of world (5, Informative)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279631)

And in the mean time, in the rest of the world, crippled phones DON'T EXIST. Because the phone you use is independent from the carrier. Welcome to open standards (GSM).

Re:USA - rest of world (3, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279691)

I've found you can find happiness in slavery.--Reznor

Re:USA - rest of world (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280023)

Threaten cell execs with the chair and maybe they'd shape up....

Re:USA - rest of world (3, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280199)

Screw the furniture. Threaten not to use their products, and you've got their attention. Recall, there had been civilization prior to the advent of the cell phone...

Re:USA - rest of world (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280403)

I think the chair from the Happiness and Slavery music video would be rather intimidating. :)

USA - Europe - Middle East -... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279783)

No, GSM is not universally the same. There are at least 3 GSM bands (frequencies escape me). North America has one, Europe another, and (I think) the Middle East has the third. My AT&T/Cingular GSM phone would not work in Europe.

Also, GSM does not prevent a phone company from crippling service. The company can still filter/block your data. Any node on the network can refuse to play fair.

Re:USA - Europe - Middle East -... (2, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279871)

there are four bands. gsm 900 and gsm 1800 are used in europe, gsm 850 and gsm 1900 are used in americas (because 900 mhz and 1800 mhz were already used in usa that time).

quad bands gsm cell phones work everywhere.

Re:USA - Europe - Middle East -... (2, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279891)

No, GSM is not universally the same. There are at least 3 GSM bands (frequencies escape me). North America has one, Europe another, and (I think) the Middle East has the third.

The rest of the world uses 900 and 1800MHz for GSM. The US uses two different frequencies, 850 and 1900.
 
Most phones sold in the Europe are tri band or quad band these days, covering all the frequencies needed to roam internationally. I've happily been using various UK phones in the US since 2002, and roaming in Europe and Africa man times before then.
 
You are right though, that just because you have a compatible phone, networks can still play unfair. Even your home network when you see roaming costs, like Vodafone UK charging $20/Mb for roaming data!

Re:USA - Europe - Middle East -... (0)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281031)

Even your home network when you see roaming costs, like Vodafone UK charging $20/Mb for roaming data!
Geez. That would have added almost $4,500 to my phone bill. Good thing I live in the United States where I get all-I-can-eat data plan from T-Mobile for $19.99/month on my UNLOCKED phone (T-Mobile bill I got yesterday said I used 223 megabytes).

Oh, wait... I'm sorry. I forgot this is Slashdot and we're supposed to be bashing America here. Sorry.

Re:USA - rest of world (3, Insightful)

Espectr0 (577637) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280105)

It isn't pretty in all of the rest of the world either. In latin america, all phones are locked to the carrier that provides them. While they don't cripple the phones as much as verizon (my v3 came with all features enabled), we can't choose carriers. GSM doesn't mean that the phone is free from carrier lockdown.

Re:USA - rest of world (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280171)

Yup, exactly the reason why I bailed on Verizon. Their phones wouldn't do Bluetooth OBEX transfers unless you happened to get a specific phone with an "accidental" firmware revision where they forgot to lock down OBEX. Add to that the mandatory Verizon crippleware UI, which slows down the majority of the baseline phones and sometimes results in confusing menus.

I purchased an unlocked RIZR in December 06 and brought it to a T-Mobile store. They gladly ran the FCC number port on the Verizon number and activated the phone. And it's MINE. It cost a bit more, but I have that knowledge that I can take it to the other US GSM network provider without having to choose an entirely different phone (unless they start putting in strange restrictions, but anyway). I know it's not going to last forever, but I felt burned going from a spartan-but-efficient Nokia 6015i to the scary mish-mash of RAZR flip phone knockoffs, plus the usability abortion that was the first-rev LG Chocolate.

Re:USA - rest of world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280259)

And in the mean time, in the rest of the world, crippled phones DON'T EXIST.
Obviously, America is leading the world with its example!

Re:USA - rest of world (3, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280923)

I live in America. I have an uncrippled phone, because I opted to buy my own. I could either buy an uncrippled phone, or let the telco subsidize my purchase, but they want to cripple the phone so I would end up paying more money in the long term. Ultimately, I decided that to replace my uncrippled phone with one crippled in ways I didn't care about, but that was superior in other ways.

Let's be clear, you can bitch about the loss of rights companies force on you. Just be prepared to pay full-price for those things. Alternatively, you can buy a phone where they cripple the bluetooth, just use USB to move things, and say, "Hey, bluetooth isn't worth $150 to me to buy an uncrippled version."

It's actually more freedom in the US.

Re:USA - rest of world (2, Informative)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280955)

And in the mean time, in the rest of the world, crippled phones DON'T EXIST. Because the phone you use is independent from the carrier. Welcome to open standards (GSM).
False.

Locked, subsidized, and crippled phones exist on a number of carriers in Europe and Asia. I've seen them in England, France, Belgium, Austria, and Japan.

You sound like someone who's been drinking too much Anti-U.S. Kool-Aid and has never shopped around for mobile phone service outside the United States.

And for the record, I have an UNLOCKED GSM phone that I use on T-Mobile here in the United States. You don't have to buy a locked phone. Just just have to be dumb to do it.

Re:USA - rest of world (1)

fast penguin (910736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281495)

Here in Portugal its very common practice for cellulars to be locked into a carrier, and, in fact, the only places I see cellulars being sold is in the carrier shops.

iPhone is old tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279647)

Of course other more advanced phones will "diminish" the iPhone. Sorry to upset the Apple crowd, Apple do make some cool products. But this is old tech in fancy wrapping. No 3G, MMS or GPS? No 3rd party application availability? I know it was delayed for long, and it sure looks like it. One year ago this phones feature set might have been more excusable.

Re:iPhone is old tech (4, Funny)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280111)

But this is old tech in fancy wrapping.

Don't fret, I'm sure it suffer the same fate that befell the iPod.

Re:iPhone is old tech (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280213)

No 3rd party application availability?


What rock have you been under? 3rd party apps aren't a problem, doesn't even take a l33t haxx0r to install them. I've got apache webserver and a wiki running on mine, a Nintendo emulator (w00t! Haven't played Galaxians in years!), full shell access with ssh, and on and on.



I know it was delayed for long, and it sure looks like it. One year ago this phones feature set might have been more excusable.


OK sure, whatever. I went from a Palm Treo to the iPhone. Most of what the iphone does, the Palm does too. But without exception, the UI on the palm is clunky compared to how the iPhone does it. If you just want to check off items on a feature list, then I'm not surprised that you don't _get it_ when it comes to UI usability. MMS might be in the next release, that's the rumor. But by god, if I can't send text messages that include animated gifs, how ever will I live. GPS? Got one, never use it. Use(d) the iPod more. 3G? Yeah, OK, but to me worrying about the transport mechanism for my cell network isn't important. Can I get signal where I use it? Great. It's interesting to note that a friend of mine just got back from Hungary, where his iPhone worked just fine, but his blackberry with "global coverage", did not. It's a new one, no idea if that's 3G or not or who his carrier is but, doesn't add any value to me.

Much as I'd love to go on, I need to deploy some more content to my webserver on the iPhone.

Simple Solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279669)

If you want the Blackberry 8820 uncrippled, get it from T-Mobile. It's better than AT&T anyway.

Improved services attract consumers (5, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279673)

Many carriers think they are a monopoly and don't want to have their low end rob the profit from the high end.

They are forgetting something. There is competition. They should strive to make all of their products and services more valuable to consumers.

Here is what we have so far..
1 An i-phone which is cool who's bill comes in a box shipped by UPS Oh and by the way is has a monopoly carrier.

2 A Blackberry. They are obtainable from several carriers, but AT&T cripples them worse than other carriers.

3 A Blackberry on another carrier.

4.. The rest of the market

If you avoid #1 due to the carrier issues and monster bills, you are now likely to avoid #2 for both the service and carrier reputation. Just what were they thinking? They don't hold a monopoly on Blackberries.

http://www.bbhub.com/2006/09/18/rating-the-major-b lackberry-carrier-retailers-who-gets-it-and/ [bbhub.com]

Re:Improved services attract consumers (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279723)

The monster bills come with any phone on AT&T. And they don't equate to the cost of said bill. For example I got a iPhone bill that was 48 double sided pages long but all the charges were free and included in my plan.

Re:Improved services attract consumers (1)

PenGun (794213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281389)

"Mac OS X and Windows XP working side by side to fight back the night."

  I guess that would be the blackness that's everywhere but the cursor, boot camp indeed. Fear the dark ... we wait for you.

but... (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279853)

Many carriers think they are a monopoly and don't want to have their low end rob the profit from the high end.

There is indeed competition in some places and in others they just scare you from leaving with their high service termination fees.

Re:but... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280373)

There is indeed competition in some places and in others they just scare you from leaving with their high service termination fees.

Very true,--- until the 2 year contract is up. Consumers have a memory of the problems and pains they have with a carrier. Churn is very real.

2 year contracts may only slow it down to the next contract renewal. Better service would reduce churn.

Re:Improved services attract consumers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279855)

This is nice and lovley until you realize that everyone cripples the service, so you have no choice.

I do not know if this is the case here, but the market goes that way. Why bother offering something when your competition doesn't offer it either? More importantly, when all the customer cares about is that he pays 0.01 cent less with you than with your competing company.

Look at the ads from the various cell providers. Does anyone mention his services? Or is all they push their "low" price?

Generally, you'll see that they all offer exactly the same. The reason for this is simple: Yes, you might attract maybe 1% of the market with a certain feature, but you'll have to support it for ALL your customers. That costs money. While, when you can lower your cost, and thus you can lower your price, you will invariably attract more than 1% of the market.

Re:Improved services attract consumers (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280813)

This is nice and lovley until you realize that everyone cripples the service, so you have no choice.

Actually I do have a choice. In the world of instant gratification many see the glass as half full, ie there are features that don't work.

I look at the package offered, and then move on.

Case in point. I bought a cell phone with the understanding that it is just a phone. We deliberately had the carrier eliminate all web access. They said "text messaging won't work". I said "Good, neither does the company store". I carry a 2 way pager. I don't need anything for a fee in the company store. This has kept our phone bill reasonable. When we get data charges, I call the fraud department, then the billing department. (I know I should just start with the billing department, but it's more fun that way)

I use a Laptop for Web, music, video and e-mail on the go. I have an MP3 player which has no charges to sync. I use a 2 way pager for IM. The phone provider could have offered a competitive package, but failed badly on price.

Don't ever think you have no choice. Look at the glass half full and decide if you want a cordless phone. Add on from there if the offerings are good. If they aren't then look for other glasses.

Re:Improved services attract consumers (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281209)

This is nice and lovley until you realize that everyone cripples the service, so you have no choice.
Not every carrier cripples the service. If you believe this, you either haven't done your research or live out in the sticks where there are only one or two carriers.

I'm not so sure why AT&T would want to do this (3, Insightful)

intx13 (808988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279679)

I'm not so sure why AT&T would want to do this. Even though I wouldn't think that the iPhone and the Blackberry compete directly, at least prior to this decision AT&T sold one popular device with GPS functionality. Why they would change so that they now sell no devices (at the iPhone/Blackberry level) with GPS capabilities?

I could understand if Apple wanted this to happen... but how does this help AT&T? AT&T doesn't/shouldn't care if people are buying Blackberries over iPhones on the basis of GPS, so long as the Blackberry comes from AT&T. If they believed that GPS was the tipping point, those customers are now buying nothing from AT&T.

Doesn't seem so smart to me.

Re:I'm not so sure why AT&T would want to do t (0, Troll)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280349)

Look, a lot of people are pretending that this has nothing to do with apple. Obviously this only helps AT&T insofar as it helps Apple. Apple chose Cingular for a reason, and that reason was that it would promote this device in various ways. This is one of them.

Apple probably insisted that AT&T do this. No other explanation makes sense. It's not evil, it's just business. The iPhone is supposed to be the ultimate phone with maximum flexibility. I'm sure to many people, it actually seems that way. No reason to hate Apple for this. It's the way this industry works.

If you really really want your flexibility, you can't buy subsidized products. These companies are paying for your phones so they can have some control over them. If you don't mind, then it is win-win.

If you do mind, just buy an unlocked phone and use a carrier that supports your phone.

how retarted. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279685)

The GPS in every cellphone I have ever tried was incredibly crappy anyways. The Blackberry GPs's dont get a fix unless you carefully hold them up in the air in an open field, Nextel GPS phones also suck horribly. The iPhone dies not have a GPS for two very good reasons. 1. it's a metal casing phone. 2. GPS modules in phones simply do not work so they left it out. The cheapie Magellan Gold GPS I got for $89.00 on ebay kicks the crud out of every single GPS enabled phone I have ever seen. and yes I have seen lots of them. They can not get a GPS fix from inside your pocket or on your hip, they never work in newer cars as the glare film and other tratements make the windshield electrically conductive so it blocks RF signals.

I am sure they are disabling the GPS simply because the GPS sucks. The is the same company that 3 years ago refused to allow phones on it's network that did not have GPS's in them.

Re:how retarted. (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279767)

I dont think most cell phones have gps. They have "enhanced gps" or somesuch. They dont ever interact with gps satellites. They just know which cell tower they talked to and perhaps the nearby ones and do something like triangulation. Your cell phone knows the gps coords of the cell tower because the carrier does. So your phone asks "Hey Sprint, what is the gps of tower 581290?" Its not much more complicated than that, so the results are always going to be pretty poor compared to real gps.

Your magellan gold is a real gps device. Adding a real gps device to a phone would raise the price like 50+ dollars (and bulk). Its not worth it to the buyers right now.

Re:how retarted. (1)

the unbeliever (201915) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279907)

I don't know how verizon's vznavigator service works (actual GPS or tower triangulation), but it can get my current location within 10-20 feet when I allow it to locate me.

Re:how retarted. (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279985)

Incorrect, most cellphone Chipsets have GPS built in, even my crappy old nextel candybar phone had a real gps you fire up the program and watch it try over the next 20 minutes to get a lock on 3 or more sattelites. while the magellan has a lock on 6 of them in 1.5 minutes and has another 4 at full strength. The phone's app shows 5 birds only at less than 50% strength. The 3 different models of blackberry I owned all did the same thing incredibly poor GPS signal reception and are typically only 6-8 channel GPS's as well. I never saw a hybrid type phone that would fake the GPS location from the cell tower id, but then I've only dealt with corperate cellphones like the blackberry, nextel and highend phones like the blackjack and other smartphones. But even the entry level $50.00 without a contract phones like the i315 that is popular with the gettho boost mobile crowd has a real GPS that simply cant even recieve a good signal in an open field from the GPS sattelites.

Even the GSM phone chipsets I have played with from resellers like sparkfun have incredibly bad quality GPS's on them. I had to buy a Gps signal strength preamp and wire it to a magnetic mount amplified GPS antenna to get them to get and keep a GPS lock in the one tracker I built. I went through 4 GM862 Evaluation Kit cellular+gps kits before I discovered that the gps performance was normal for cellphone chipsets.

Re:how retarted. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280395)

Wow. Sounds like you had crappy luck. I have a Blackberry 8800 that I got specifically because of the GPS, and it works great. Locks on to 5-8 satellites in 30 seconds or so, every time. Locks on my position, and the map starts following me, in my car. Don't even have to set it on the dashboard or anything, which my brother's Garmin GPS unit almost requires.

Not precisely... (3, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280009)

You are correct in that it isn't a pure GPS situation in most all phones, but it doesn't mean it isn't interacting with GPS satellite signals, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_GPS [wikipedia.org]. GPS takes more time and is more picky about quality signal from satellites. aGPS still has some degree of satellite signal being received at the phone, but either sends that data to the tower which uses it's more optimal GPS situation to provide a lock, or receives the extra data from the tower. In other words, it isn't necessarily any less precise, just potentially dependent on communication with a tower and less time needed from the point of being turned on to being able to pinpoint the location.

Re:how retarted. (1)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280005)

The GPS in my LG VX8500 chocolate can get my location instantly and using VZW navigator has never lead me in the wrong direction. Maybe you just bought phones with crappy GPS, and have never tried other phones.

Re:how retarted. (1)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280081)

Sounds like you just have a habit of buying shitty cellphones, probably just buying them based on looks. All 3 GPS-enabled cells I've used have worked fine, including in-pocket and in car.

Re:how retarted. (1)

voidy (1003912) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280359)

I have found that the Blackberry GPS is actually very good. It always shows a birds eye view of pretty much the precise location you're in (in England). Don't know how many Blackberries you've got, but I can't agree with your statement.

Re:how retarted. (1)

gorfie (700458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280557)

Are you stating that a dedicated device performs a given function better than a multi-purpose device? I think most of us would agree that this is generally true, but there are those in the world who aren't comfortable accessorizing themselves with four or five electronic gadgets.

Re:how retarted. (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281255)

The GPS-enabled Nextels we have at work routinely locate my co-workers hundreds of miles from where they actually are -- often in the middle of Lake Michigan when they're actually on dry land. Sometimes I can be looking at someone in the office in Chicago and the computer puts their "dot" in the middle of a field in Iowa.

If Apple offered GPS in their phone as crappy as what appears to be the standard, they'd be raked over the coals for it.

Is this in any way surprising? (3, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279693)

I have to say that this seems normal behavior for any phone company the world over. I've never had the full features of any phone I've ever owned from many carriers in several countries.

It's what phone companies do. It's usually a question of finding the provider that sucks the least.

Although, in this case it seems a little back-to-front. I would guess that there may be users who end up with a Blackberry because they can't afford one, or their company prefers that system. I would seriously doubt there are many (non-corporation based) users who actually prefer a Blackberry now. Cost aside.

And, can I ask that maybe it's time to have a moratorium on iPhone stories. Yes, I think it's cool too -- but I am sick and tired reading of about it. The Firehose if clogged with iPhone stories. I want to read about something else now. Thanks.

Re:Is this in any way surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279801)

normal behavior for any phone company the world over.


your "world" seems to be excitingly small...

it's time to have a moratorium on iPhone stories...The Firehose if clogged with iPhone stories

you can customize your /. frontpage and also filter the firehose...

Re:Is this in any way surprising? (3, Informative)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279895)

This is infact not normal behaviour, I don't know where you got this from. In countries with functioning mobile phone markets (that would be almost everywhere else except the US) the customers will quickly abandon any company cripling their phones for another one.

Re:Is this in any way surprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280305)

agreed. i live in the u.s., but i travel abroad and, on my last trip to switzerland, went cell phone shopping. none of the phones are feature- or sim-locked. i bought the exact phone of my choosing and have all features available (more than i want or will use, in fact). that option was simply not available to me had i attempted to purchase the same phone via my carrier in the united states (there are, of course, places one can order unlocked phones online, but i like to see what i'm getting before i get it). in fact, u.s. sales staff actually laughed when i requested said phone - "hah ... not possible."

Re:Is this in any way surprising? (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281399)

This is infact not normal behaviour, I don't know where you got this from. In countries with functioning mobile phone markets (that would be almost everywhere else except the US) the customers will quickly abandon any company cripling their phones for another one.
You're absolutely right. Look at how Vodaphone, O2, NTT, KDDI, and other companies have been brought to their knees by crippling and locking their phones.

Oh, wait. They haven't.

I don't think you have any idea what you're talking about. GSM was free (as in speech) back in the early 90's, but the market has changed greatly since then.

doesn't matter (1)

packslash (788926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279703)

I don't know what they are worried about, the iphone stomps the blackberry. It doesn't seem "diminished" in anyway in comparison (I own both) Unless diminished now means easier to use and more convenient. Also I don't know why people are so down on edge. I use it in Los Angeles and it's fast for browsing the internet. Yah it's not my 10 megabit home connection but pages load pretty much within a couple secs and sometimes instantly. At&t doesn't need to cripple anything. Ultimately a wider spectrum of ppl will find the iphone easier to use. Especially when it comes down in price.

Re:doesn't matter (1)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281079)

Spoken from someone who's never used a blackberry. Call me when your iPhone has:

- IRC

- SSH

- MMS

- Blackberry Messenger (this one is so key)

- integration with Exchange or Zimbra

- A filesystem that lets you save things, like pictures and audio

- a rich e-mail client that lets you send things from said filesystem

- custom backgrounds that display at times other than when the phone is locked

- custom ringtones

- a keyboard with tactile feedback

- a keyboard with an ea easily accessibly period (.)

- COPY AND PASTE

And for record the built in browser, Opera Mini, and Google Maps are all fantastic on the blackberry.

Sure, that's exactly it. Yeah. (5, Insightful)

jht (5006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279729)

As long as carriers dictate what phones do or don't do, this is no big deal - it's just typical. I suspect the GPS functionality lockdown has nothing to do with iPhone, it's probably just that AT&T wants to sell their Telenav service and make money from it. The iPhone really doesn't compete in the same segment as Blackberries of any stripe, and they sell at a non-subsidized price - GPS or the lack thereof isn't going to make a hell of a lot of difference in the Blackberry/iPhone purchase decision.

It's not like this is rare. Heck, Verizon's locked down the OBEX capabilities on most of their Bluetooth phones so they can sell their wireless sync service. Even Apple had to bite the bullet here - since there's no subsidy on the phone and Apple pockets all the money, don't you think they'd love to sell unlocked iPhones that would work on every GSM carrier? Or sell CDMA models through Verizon or Sprint? Of course they would. But to get AT&T to sell 'em and modify the network (build out EDGE capacity and add the Visual Voicemail system) they had to agree to a multi-year exclusivity deal.

So basically, the 8820 being modified because of Apple? I call BS. And if you want your Blackberry and you want it on AT&T, find yourself an unlocked version and just DIY. It's GSM, you can do that. It'll be unsubsidized, but at least that way it'll be a fair fight with the iPhone.

Wait - even though iPhone is unsubsidized it's still locked. Never mind!

Re:Sure, that's exactly it. Yeah. (1)

tjrw (22407) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280247)

Precisely. I doubt that it has anything to do with the iPhone. AT&T has a track record of crippling phones that's almost as bad as Verizon's. If you want a perfect example compare the (crippled) Nokia E62 from Cingular, now AT&T, to the original version of the phone, the E61. Ooh look, no 3G, no Wifi, no SIP client. The only good thing they did was ditch the crappy proprietary Nokia connector and put a mini-usb connector on instead.

So, I have an E61 and am using it with T-Mobile (just swapped my SIM). There's even some chance the T-Mobile may get to use the "normal" UMTS/HSPDA frequencies and that my phone's 3G may actually work when they roll it out - it worked fine in Germany last month :-)

Verizon too! (5, Interesting)

dimer0 (461593) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279745)

Comon, this isn't just AT&T. My *Verizon* 8830 phone has been "crippled" for about 2 weeks before the iPhone came out.

I called Verizon and inquired why my phone doesn't have the GPS turned on, and after getting to some 'data expert', I was told that the reason is Blackberry won't turn over some API or something to allow Verizon to enable this.

Now, I doubt that's really the reason, but again - this isn't some AT&T and/or Apple stunt.

Re:Verizon too! (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280875)

Fuck Verizon. Not that I've ever had them but they just suck. My buddy and I were in the store for some adapter for him and I said "iPhone". OOPS!

The sales people swarmed on me saying that the reason they didn't have it is because Apple wanted them to do this and that; when the real issue was that Verizon is in the market to sell music at twice the price of iTunes. They didn't want this thing on their network because it would cut their music profits in half. Even more, it let you get video from YouTube and other sources while Verizon has their own. Then they told us that they were bigger than AT&T, in all aspects, and that the food at their brainwashing center was par excellence.

Actually, fuck them all. T-mobile to Verizon, to AT&T to Sprint. They all cripple our phones, then subsidise the phone to lock you in. Sure, my Samsung T509 may cost $300 brand new, but you took out the features that make it worth that. It should now cost about 35 bucks.

And WTF happened to PCS services? The first non-cellular provider I knew of was GTE Wireless. They were going to revolutionize the industry with these sweet Qualcomm phones. And they did for a bit. The phones were yours, no contract. The minutes were around 10 cents or less depending on your plan. At a time when cellular services were finally getting that low (for a huge monthly plan) they were leaving the gates with it. The sound was crystal clear and the reception was everywhere. I could even send e-mail from that phone for no additional costs. Text messaging was possible too! No extra cost! Then the cellular players started getting into the game, and with help from fuck faces like Motorola and Nokia we got these restricted phones that cost ten times more than they should. I only know of one provider today that doesn't make you sign a contract for month to month billing - but who wants to pay top dollar for a phone that they've restricted? Since they all do it, there is no competition to not do it. There seem to be these niche phones, iPhone, Sidekick, Helio, etc, but monthly fees attached that make me wince (data services cost as much as DSL, but don't carry a tenth of the traffic, WTF??!?!?! AT&T's data plans are nuts compared to the Sidekick monthly IMHO.). So again, fuck sprint and ameritech, cellular one, and verizon for buying up GTE.

I want to prank call their CEO's, but I can't afford the minutes.

Re:Verizon too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280899)

As someone who works for BlackBerry Verizon asks to disable features such as GPS. It's funny when Verizon front line agents transfer these calls to us and we tell them straight up. Remember folks, if your carrier tells you for any reason a feature is not enabled because the manufacturer won't do something it is a bold faced lie. The carriers live in fear of features.

No cellphone carrier understands BB customers (2, Interesting)

T5 (308759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281123)

Blackberry won't turn over some API or something to allow Verizon to enable this.
That's about the fourth different reason I've heard as to why the GPS is disabled in the 8830, but the first to point the finger at RIM. First, I was told by someone at Verizon that only the 911 service used the GPS. Well, I had to explain to the customer service rep that the technology she was referencing was A-GPS [wikipedia.org], not true GPS like the Verizon marketing literature and the RIM website stated is in the 8830. The second person I spoke with a few days later swore that the GPS worked. The third person, being somewhat cautious as to what was said over the phone, gave me the impression that because VZNavigator, Verizon's turn-by-turn navigation service, has not yet been ported to run on the Blackberry and/or Verizon had not yet worked out a deal with Telenav, that they disabled the GPS until then as to protect another revenue stream, even though Verizon didn't remove Blackberry Maps from the phone beforehand. Also, Google Maps for the Blackberry will work with the GPS too, were it working... (Hint: get a Bluetooth GPS, use one or the other of these apps, and don't waste the money with Verizon when and if they come out with a navigation "pay-per-trip").

It seems as if none of the major carriers are willing to embrace the Blackberry line fully. Verizon, for instance, not only disabled the GPS, but also removed the OBEX Bluetooth profile (for one thing, you can't exchange phone books with in-car phone systems) and locked the SIM slot to work with Vodafone only - all measures I'm sure in some way in Verizon's corporate consciousness make sense to their bottom line. From the users' perspective, however, our bottom line is somewhat different. Some of us purchased the Blackberry 8830 precisely because we were told that it had a functional GPS. Some of the purchases were driven by the fact that this is much more of a business tool than a BREW-enabled [wikipedia.org] plaything ("Get It Now"? Get real...) And some of us were convinced that this would truly be a world phone but came to find out that it's Vodafone's world or nothing (unless we want to cough up the balance of the full retail price for the phone, fill out some paperwork, and wait patiently for the SIM unlock code). One of my destinations, Costa Rica (where, by the way, I was told that the 8830 would work just fine), has a state-run monopoly whose name is not Vodafone. Unless I want to cough up another US$250 or so, I'm once again without phone while on international travel.

So, no, I don't really believe that AT&T crippled the Blackberry to make the iPhone look better. I believe they crippled the Blackberry because they're no more in touch with their users and their needs than any of the other major carriers and they're just after another buck and haven't figured out

Mobility services in this country are pathetic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279779)

Subject says all. Mod up if you agree.

The iPhone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279789)

is for fudge packing fags.

Insult to their customers' common sense?.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279811)

...it sounds more like a Raspberry than a Blackberry to me!

Sorry :-(

Fuck AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20279887)

I currently use AT&T, and I've got an HTC Wizard.

By the end of the year, I intend to switch to T-Mobile and buy an unlocked HTC Kaiser off eBay.

I will not buy their overrated Scheisse iPhone, and if they think they can fuck with quality PDA phones, they've got another think coming.

What you have here .. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279899)

is a classic example of the FISS principle: Foot In Self Shoot.

Not the first time our communications carriers have done that, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

The New Antitrust? (2, Interesting)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20279963)

I'm never one for government regulation, but in view of the very existence of these companies in this space being based on regulation (frequency band reservation), I wonder if we need new antitrust legislation for this, a situation that the original writers of antitrust law could not have readily envisioned or comprehended? It's sort of an inverse product tying and is definitely intended to decrease competition (for example, no one can offer a competing navigation product on this device even though it clearly has the capability).

Or perhaps we need to retroactively apply the Google points on open device access to existing as well as new bands? It can be done by Congress under the ethical directive of protecting the public commons. From a business standpoint, is a legitimate intervention when the existing leasholders of those commons are mismanaging it against the interest of overall economic activity and the public good.

Bullshit on its face (0, Offtopic)

gig (78408) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280053)

This is a bullshit article written to publish the idea that a BlackBerry can show up an iPhone. It cannot, even if you love your push email you are lacking so much other stuff you need a notebook just to read the Web.

Why doesn't BlackBerry put a real Web browser in there to avoid the iPhone showing them up? When you consider necessary features, a Web 2.0 browser comes in way ahead of GPS let's be real. Even audio/video Podcasts are more important than GPS. That gives you radio, TV, training courses.

The lack of GPS in the iPhone is something hardcore nerds complain about so they can keep carrying their antique smart phones. It's not something that most people even know exists let alone need. Never mind that any moment there will be a plug-on GPS for the iPod dock connector and then what? Can you plug Firefox into a BlackBerry?

Re:Bullshit on its face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280209)

I can't wait to get a blackberry. Fuck the iPhone. GPS is not just an obscure acronym. It's the most useful piece of personal mobile techmology to come around since the cell phone. I've already got a TomTom but I only have it when I'm in my car. It would be reassuring to know that I could never get lost anywhere.

From what I hear Opera makes a mean mobile web browser that runs on the blackberry. What's that sound? Third party apps motherfuckers.

Re:Bullshit on its face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280241)

I don't have Firefox on my BB or my Sanyo 8300 cell phone but I do have Opera, Gmail, Google maps, Google earth and various IM applications. Real browsers are available and very easy to install on almost all smartphones, BB devices and cell phones, hell pretty much most devices made in the last few years with the exception of your iPhone. See http://www.operamini.com/ [operamini.com]

The lack of GPS in the iPhone is something hardcore nerds complain about so they can keep carrying their antique smart phones.

The way I see it, the lack of GPS makes people that that buy anything Apple makes claim that GPS is not needed or that it is stupid.

Re:Bullshit on its face (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281337)

It cannot, even if you love your push email you are lacking so much other stuff you need a notebook just to read the Web.
Eh? What's wrong with the opera browser again?

When you consider necessary features, a Web 2.0 browser comes in way ahead of GPS let's be real.
Web 2.0? What are you? Apple marketing?

Even audio/video Podcasts are more important than GPS.
I don't agree, it's important for business users to figure out their location and what's wrong with Movidity or BlackBerry Media Player's support for podcasts?

Never mind that any moment there will be a plug-on GPS for the iPod dock connector and then what?
Oh great so the iPod is going to become the next Universal Business Adapter [youtube.com].

iPhone is the benchmark? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280121)

At one time, like when the razr came out, people would just complain that the feature had been disabled so that ATT could charge for the service, or on a positive note, for security reasons. But now with the iPhone, and it's challenge to the safe designs, one has to say that Blackberry is so superior to the iPhone that ATT had to disable features to make the iPhone seem less lame.

Of course this ignores the fact that the phones are targeted to different people. The Blackberry is the corporate phone that allows the IT Gods to exert their divine control and the workers to be be 24 hour push leash. The iPhone, which, as we know from all the bitching, does not even have corporate accounts, is designed for the person who just wants to communicate. I certainly have no desire to pay $3k for a blackberry enterprise server when i can pay $100 for a .mac account. And I don't need data pushed to me to read while I am driving.

Wow (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280175)

Anti-competitive monopolistic behaviour anyone/

Just shows up the fanboys who still claim that apple wouldn't be microsoft even if the could.

iPhone? I thought it was China or Canada or ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280205)

I thought AT&T disabled some functions of different phones for the favor of China [counterpunch.org] or Canada [wikipedia.org] or France or whatever country we should blame.

Has Anyone Even Seen An iPhone? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280207)

I've never heard of anyone I know owning one.
I've never heard of anyone I know even talking about buying one.
I've never seen anyone walking around with one.

The sales figures for the phone so far are embarrassingly low even for a product that you would have thought hundreds of thousands of Mac fans with huge amounts of disposable income would have bought without hesitation.

I can't imagine AT&T doing anything like this for a marketplace flop like the iPhone.

Re:Has Anyone Even Seen An iPhone? (4, Informative)

bwen (675669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280477)

I own one, my brother owns one, my mother has one, my father has one. My boss has one, my 2 best friends each have one. You can't go outside without seeing people using them. Its hardly a marketplace flop; initial sales projections were off, and they are selling quite nicely.

Summary is Wrong - RTFA (5, Informative)

HumanEmulator (1062440) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280303)

The summary makes it sound like GPS is being removed from the phone, but the article says in first paragraph "...the US carrier has been successful in their attempts to lockdown the GPS functionality in their upcoming BlackBerry 8820 so that the only functioning 3rd party software will be TeleNav."

Not the same thing. "Only functioning 3rd party software", means you should be able to use TeleNav and any 1st party software (ie. whatever RIM has.)

Note: TMobile.com doesn't advertise (or even list as a feature) the GPS functionality on the BlackBerry 8800 that it is selling.

Of course there's no doubt this unbiased reporting from "BLACKBERRYCOOL" written by someone who admits to interviewing people while drunk (http://www.blackberrycool.com/2007/05/09/004387/) is totally accurate.

Even more great behavior from a cell phone company (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280333)

And the great regulators we have who let cell phone companies get away with false advertising and pretty much everything else.

You see, they aren't going to market this as "BlackBerry 8820, GPS crippled edition", they're going to sell it as an 8820.
And then charge you $10 per month to use the GPS.

Just like every other cell phone carrier in the USA has ripped out some features in most of their phones so they can sell some fucking "monthly service" that is vastly inferior to what is built into an uncrippled phone.
In each and every single case, the cell phone companies do not make it clear that you're not actually getting the phone on the cell phone manufacturer's website, but a cripple version.

Not just the blackberry (1)

Tintivilus (88810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280445)

The rest of the world's version of the RAZR V3xx has GPS as well, but not the AT&T version.

What about Garmin Mobile then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20280507)

So does this mean that AT&T are denying a market for third party products like Garmin Mobile [garmin.com] on Blackberries? If so, I imagine that Garmin might set the lawyers on AT&T.

Poppycock (2, Insightful)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20280593)

This is obvious nonsense. AT&T has no financial incentive to steer people away from BlackBerries (quite the opposite, in fact, BlackBerry service plans are more expensive than the standard iPhone plans), and if an agreement with Apple is forcing them to do it, then that agreement would likely be illegal and probably doesn't exist.

Re:Poppycock (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281191)

Wrong. Doubly wrong, in fact.

1: Gross price does not equal profit. If AT&T has two plans, one $40/mo and one $100/mo, but their profits are $10/mo and $1/mo respectively, they'll push you to the first plan. Why? Because that's where their profit is.

2: AT&T is not a monopoly. Microsoft is restrained from doing certain bundling actions with Windows, because they DO have a monopoly on Windows. AT&T & Apple do not have a monopoly on cell phone service, so if they wanted to they could require the purchase of a ham sandwhich with each monthly fee.

Re:Poppycock (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281285)

Monopolies is not the only law that could apply here. If it is legal to pay a service provider not just to offer your product (which is legal unless you're a monopoly) but to actively cripple a competitor's, I would be very surprised, monopoly or not. I'm not a legal expert, but 'it is not a monopoly' is not the final world. Consider what is being alleged here. It's a hell of a lot more than bundling, and it's not analogous at all to your ham samwich. This would be more like a ham samwich maker paying a deli to intentionally spoil a competitor's meat. If that's legal, then that's fucked. Maybe somebody with more legal knowledge could step in. As to point #1, all else being equal, one would naturally and correctly assume that the pricier plan brings the greater profit, unless you have some evidence that the reverse of the common sense conclusion is true. Do you?

Why? (0, Flamebait)

lightningrod220 (705243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281371)

Why does AT&T feel the need to do this? Everybody knows that Apple was more than confident that they didn't need to compete in features, because they have a great UI.

WTH. (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281375)

Some "guy" who works at at&t told some "blog" something was crippled as to not show up something else.

Fancy pants reporting there!

Nothing's really yours... (1)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 6 years ago | (#20281447)

Well... nothing's really yours until you're able to make it yours. This is why I would bite the bullet and buy an unlocked phone where the carrier cannot sabotage my phone's capabilities. Speaking of unlocked phones, who's looking forward to the Neo1973?

Oh, yeah... the ownership of an iPhone is the equivalent of wearing a shirt that says "SUCKER" in big letters. Have fun with your huge phone bills and a defective by design device! ^^
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