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 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