I have been a Verizon customer for years, their network and EV-DO coverage in my local area is top-notch and from a service standpoint I have been quite happy with them.  Where I have not been so happy with them is in their insistence on disabling […]

Verizon_logoI have been a Verizon customer for years, their network and EV-DO coverage in my local area is top-notch and from a service standpoint I have been quite happy with them.  Where I have not been so happy with them is in their insistence on disabling features on some phones so they can ply their own services for extra cost.  They bit me on their first Bluetooth-enabled phone, the Motorola V710, and I just realized today they got me again on the BlackBerry 8830.  You may recall the V710 issue became a class-action lawsuit as unhappy owners wouldn’t just roll over for Verizon’s disabling the Bluetooth tethering ability that was integrated into the V710.

Today I am sitting here in disbelief, quite embarrassed that I missed such a key feature of the 8830 in my brief research into the phone prior to buying one from Verizon.  Did you know the 8830 has integrated GPS?  Neither did I as the Verizon marketing material doesn’t mention it and neither did the rep in the store when I bought it.  It turns out that Verizon has disabled the GPS, no doubt to push their own VZNavigator service for $10 per month.  No VZNavigator service, no GPS.  They got me again!  I became aware of this fact after visiting a few BlackBerry user forums today and there are quite a few people a little peeved at Verizon about this.  I can’t say as I blame them too much.  Disabling a key feature like GPS is pretty big and RIM should share some of the blame for not having the cojones to stand up to Verizon and insisting they not disable it.  Both companies should be ashamed of themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, GPS is not that big a deal for me personally and certainly wasn’t one of the reasons why I selected the 8830.  Had I known about the lack of the GPS I still likely would have purchased the BlackBerry.  It’s the principal of the thing.  Like the old saying goes, shame on me.

RIM statement after the jump

The BlackBerry 8830 smartphone houses a proprietary, autonomous GPS receiver. This
receiver is able to calculate the handheld’s location relying solely on GPS
satellites with no input from cellular towers.  While the device does have assisted
GPS, i.e. A-GPS capability, it houses a "full" GPS system similar in nature
to GPS systems used by GPS-only car kits and mobile devices. This is designed to
be accessible by second- and third-party applications such as BlackBerry Maps, Google
Maps, and TeleNav. Such programs do need a wireless data signal to download mapping
information, though they can figure out where the BlackBerry is in terms of latitude
and longitude with just the GPS signal. 

The BlackBerry 8830 smartphone as released by Verizon has had this "full"
GPS capability disabled at a software level. Verizon has indicated that they plan
to release their own proprietary GPS mapping solution at a later time; possibly
VZ Navigator. AT&T and T-Mobile have both taken similar routes with their 8800
series handhelds; locking out GPS access for 3rd party programs and only enabling
access to the built-in receiver to the TeleNav program that they sell themselves.

If you would like Verizon to enable GPS functionality on the BlackBerry 8830, I
suggest you contact them and advise them as much.

Thank you again for contacting us, Dennis. If you have any questions or comments,
feel free to contact us.


BlackBerry Customer Support
Research In Motion Limited

Found on the Crackberry user forums

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  1. So basically consumers pay for a piece of hardware in the phone (the GPS chip certainly isn’t free) and Verizon decides they don’t get to use it. Time for another class action law suit, anyone?

  2. This is one of the many reasons I will never use Verizon. If I were tiy, I would return the phone while you can!

  3. Corporate Greed Sunday, July 1, 2007

    IMHO this is a byproduct of corporate greed, particularly that greed which is focused on “this quarter’s earnings” with no regard for the long term and no regard for the customer. I remember when the domestic automobile manufacturers maximized their short term profits at my expense in some unconscionable ways such as when Ford decided it was cheaper for pintos to blow up than to fix them. That was about 25-40 years ago. Through my adult life I have never bought a domestically branded car. I read recently where Ford did focus groups and found that Camry and Accord drivers evaluated the Ford Fusion higher than than the competition. Ford’s shock, which anyone in my generation would have predicted, is that those same Camry and Accord buyers told Ford that although Ford’s car might be better, they will not buy one under any circumstances. Someday, Verizon, AT&T, and several other telcos, will find the same consumer opt-out. But for the moment, the telecom executives continue to get rich and Wall Street is happy…….

  4. In regards to that response from RIM, ONLY the Verizon 8830 of the 8800 line is locked as such…the ATT and TMo ones aren’t. I have a VZW 8830 because I couldn’t wait for the i760 and really wanted the GPS. It was very irate, especially since it is advertised in the Spring Connect VZW magizine and the rep I purchased it from assured me that it had it there and it was fully functional.

  5. James Kendrick Sunday, July 1, 2007

    David, are you sure about AT&T AND T-MO? I read on a forum today that they are also disabled.

  6. Boycott Verizon!

  7. I’m not 100% positive on TMo, just 95%…because when I called VZW the first time about this they patched me into RIM and RIM said that both of them had the feature and fully enabled, only VZW chose to disable it…even Sprint is keeping it. I am however 100% certain about the ATT one as I started working there this week. While you can pay 10$ a month for TeleNav, you can use Google Maps with no fee and full GPS. (PS. Don’t tell, but I still have VZW, you just can’t beat EVDO….I’m returning the 8830 and going to hold out some more on the i760. Hopefully it comes soon!)

  8. I saw Garmin software running on an 8800 at Digital Experience last week. Not sure if it was TMo or AT&T. I think I’ve also read of people using Google Maps with the GPS on the 8800. Though I hear Telenav is pretty good. Wonder how Sprint will handle their 8830?

  9. I can second David: AT&T most certainly DOES allow you to use the GPS chip in the BlackBerry 8800 with Google Maps for no extra charge. They’d like everyone to sign up for their $10 add-on, TeleNav…but they don’t force you and don’t disable the GPS chip in any way.

  10. This is so much crap. Interestingly, I made a comment on another blog post I read today regarding locked phones that would apply nicely to JK’s post: http://www.atmasphere.net/wp/archives/2007/07/01/iphone-activation-issues-highlight-the-problems-with-locked-phones

    Essentially, I said I was fed up with cell phone providers lording their power over cell phone manufacturers. I wish that all of the cell phone manufacturers would just sell their phones unlocked. There’s no real benefit for the customers to have locked phones besides getting subsidized phones. Perhaps if more manufacturers would sell unlocked phones, the cell phone providers would finally compete by having good networks and network-specific features, instead of locking people in with 2-year contracts and crippled phones.

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