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BlackBerry Should End This Tour

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About two months ago, I became a happy Verizon (s VZ) customer. I signed up for the company’s unlimited calling and data plan. I got myself RIM’s (s RIMM) brand new release, the BlackBerry Tour, a well-balanced cross between the Curve 2 and the Bold, and was hooked onto a super-reliable network. For once, it seemed my smartphone woes were behind me. I subsequently went on a recommendation spree, urging everyone I know to buy the Tour. In fact, I convinced six of my close friends — many of whom I see almost on a daily basis — that they should switch to Verizon because of the Tour. Most of them were on AT&T (s T) and, thus, it didn’t take much convincing. But let’s just say: I should have kept my opinions to myself.

The Tour has turned out to be quite a lemon. The trackball is behaving like a 300-pound man running up a hill. Tour hangs when I am trying to send text messages or check MLB scores. There is a strange clicking sound that accompanies phone calls; furthermore, folks are complaining of a strange whooshing noise when I call them. And if all that weren’t enough — Tour’s battery dries up faster than raindrops in the Sahara. If not for the micro-USB charger that I use with my Macbook Pro, I would likely find myself with a dead phone halfway through the day.

Most of my friends are experiencing similar issues (though no one has complained about battery problems). And we are not alone in our troubles:  Nearly 50 percent of Tours are being returned to Sprint, some analysts estimates, and Verizon is experiencing even higher return rates. If these numbers are real — my personal experience gives me no reason to doubt the analysts — then RIM needs to look itself in the mirror. As a company that plans to take on Apple and the iPhone, it cannot be putting out substandard products onto the market.

It will be a long time before I trust BlackBerry products. As it stands now, I wouldn’t even recommend the Tour to my worst enemy. Maybe I should wait for Verizon to launch that rumored Motorola (s MOT) Android phone and get rid of BlackBerry all together.

32 Responses to “BlackBerry Should End This Tour”

  1. On top of everyone else’s comments and suggestions (like changing network settings from Global to CDMA, etc etc), I have somehow improved my Tour battery life from less than a full work day to almost THREE full work days. I am floored right now. The keys are AutoStandby and the new Seidio Innocell Extended Life Battery (2600mAH).

    Check out my blog post on it here:


  2. 50% return rate? Seems hard to believe. If your source is sell-side analysts, i’d be cautious. Have been using a Bold on ATT for almost 1 year now with NO issues aside from the network. Great keyboard, screen, battery, trackball……..just a solid, reliable device.

  3. My BB Tour is a fantastic replacement for the Palm Treo 755p I purchased exactly two years ago. The Treo worked fine for the first year but developed keyboard issues and considerable lag issues after that.

    Apart from some transitional issues moving data from the Treo over to the Tour (via a Macintosh), this Telus Mobility device works awesomely for me. Had some battery issues during the first few days but killed some apps that seemed to drain the power supply. Despite considerable amounts of daily texting and email, I usually end up with 65% power remaining at the end of my 18 hour days.

    Yes, it’s a CDMA device but it worked very well in Europe two weeks ago. As much as I wanted an iPhone, I also needed a real keyboard and this BlackBerry rocks! Looking forward to the Desktop Manager for Mac OS X!

    • LarryMcJ

      I held out for 48 hours, but now I’ve looked at, and played with, the Tours that VZW here locally is handing out and they’re definitely MUCH better. No trackball problem, no bluetooth or low audio problems…they seem much better. I may go back and try one again since there just isn’t any other BB option with VZW, unless you count the upcoming Storm 2, which has a lot of negative press already. Or, I may hold out and try the 8530, only because it has WiFi.

  4. Om,
    your passion for all things high tech; especially mobile devices; is what draws so many of us to GigaOm. I recall when you passionately wrote off the iPhone few months back, based on your ill experiences with that service. In fact your peer at TechCrunch also followed thru with a similar action, shortly thereafter.

    However, given the influence your word carries, I believe you and your peers could adopt a more balanced approach to critiquing products and services. Frankly, the current approach of cutting off products at their knees comes across as being rather impulsive and emotional, almost to the point of being personal; rather than being objective. Specifically, we all know how sturdy and reliable blackberry products have been (relative to their peers). While its true you and many others have experienced significant issues with the Tour device, in all probability this is an exception than the norm for Blackberry products. Also, we all know that design/manufacturing issues are inevitable with increasingly complex products like smartphones. The real question is how a product or service provider addresses such issues as and when they occur, and to that extent, your experience represents an opportunity for Blackberry/Verizon to grow. Perhaps with a balanced approach, you could initiate a dialogue with providers like Apple & Blackberry, steering them towards delivering effective resolutions to such issues. Finally, a balanced approach will safeguard you from taking the extreme position of divorcing a product (like the iPhone) and having some of your readers follow you; only to later retract or revisit that step.

    I firmly believe a balanced approach will help further strengthen your bond of credibility with readers like myself, and will also more positively influence actions by leaders (aka 1000 pound gorillas) like Blackberry, Apple, etc; all for the benefit of consumers at large! (fyi, I don’t own any stock in Apple, RIM, Verizon, AT&T, Motorola, or Google. Also, I don’t use the iPhone or Blackberry devices currently, since they are too expensive for my budget as an unemployed professional ;).

    I know my feedback will not be easy (or even possible) for you to accept, but I believe as a GigaOm fan, its my responsibility to share the same with you. Keep up your great work & tare care,

  5. Raj Sarma

    There were some early trackball issues, but overall this has turned out to be an amazing phone!

    #Swappable/expandable memory.
    #Swappable SIM card for use with overseas carriers.
    #Media player along with all popular apps like Pandora, Slacker, Shazam, OpenTable

    I don’t see what’s not to like! In terms of functionality, the Tour the iPhone every time. The iPhone is revolutionary, but is still a closed (Apple) black box that cannot be used anywhere out of the Apple/ATT circles.

    I had some initial trackball issues as well, but a quick trip to the Sprint store and a replacement fixed this!

  6. You and the analysts are WAY off when it comes to the trackball issues. You need to check your figures BEFORE posting such junk. While the Tour has its issues, 50% or higher return rates because of the trackball is NOT one of them. Get it right or your credibility with end users will be nil.

    As for not recommending Blackberry to anyone, that’s absolutely stupid and very shortsighted based on your two month experience with ONE model phone. How can anyone trust YOU if you’re gonna post such trivel without knowing what you’re talking about. Test the entire product line for a year or so, then post your opinion. Until then, you’re an amateur quoting idiots — and you look foolish.

  7. I am one of the early Tour adopters. I switched from AT&T to Verizon for better coverage and a single handset that works in US and EMEA.

    I do experience the horizontal scrolling problem – often I close the app and return later on.
    Frustrating for sure.

    VZW coverage is much superior in Bay area – not great in MA.

    Is there any mention from Verizon/BB about exchanges?


  8. Ever notice that the two suckiest BlackBerry devices in recent memory are both CDMA devices? (Storm and Tour)? Why didn’t they just change radios in the Curve 8900 and call it a day? I’m sure that Verizon and Sprint were pushing for something “new” so they wouldn’t just be 6 months behind AT&T and T-Mobile’s devices.

    I’ve had my Curve 8900 since launch on T-Mobile and it’s been great. My trackball will stick one in a while… but, then again, so did the ball on my Pearl I had for two years. I could probably fix it by not putting it in my pocket….

  9. I have a Tour, and the battery life, trackball and browser aren’t terrific, but otherwise it’s a fine phone. The browser is being addressed as they recently purchased that company that has a webkit browser and future Blackberries will have an optical track pad. It’s all fixed or will be fixed. At least you can replace the battery in a Blackberry.

  10. Om,

    My advice , press the 300 pound track ball and torture it a bit.
    The thing will start working.
    My friend had similar issue.We went to replace it in the ATT store.
    They wouldn’t take it back but were sending a new one with a return kit from their customer service.

    My buddy was frustrated and pressed it forcefully. The thing became loose and started working back.

    Try it , it works.

  11. Owned an AT & T BB Curve-no wifi, no 3G, as a phone it sucked-no good. Got an iPhone 2 months ago-love it and never looked back. I passed the Curve along to my teenaged son-he hates it. He’s tired of it turning on in class and getting him in trouble, and as a phone it’s terrible. I tried to warn him. He can’t wait until his plan resets in October so he can get an iPhone like the rest of the family. Sorry RIM- your stuff is really starting to look sub-par and the Tour just reinforces that view. Nothing to see here, move along…

  12. Every firm has strengths and weaknesses. I believe RIM’s far better at product design than software development. I’m dating myself, but BlackBerry OS, once past the top level UI reminds me of the Net BEFORE Netscape, i.e., lines and lines of text. It’s confusing and highly unfriendly.

    Granted, RIM is experiencing a surge in growth, both due to the Rise of Smartphones (sounds like a rejected Terminator sequel plot) and the blossoming of BlackBerry as a consumer brand 12 months ago.

    There is a great deal of cachet in the BB brand, but I am not a fan of RIM.

  13. David Miller

    I had an early Tour that had the left-right trackball problem. I sent it back and the new one has been working without incident.

    If it is within 30 days, they’ll give you a new one in the store. After 30 days they’ll Fed-Ex a new one.

  14. well, i’m on sprint and did the same thing – got it, raved about it, now can’t even scroll left or right and a little clock pops up when it’s extra laggy…i finally went to the store, told them that it sucks, they’ve ordered a replacement unit and – knock on wood – people in the forums are stating that the replacements solve the hardware woes, and the .53 sw update fixes much of the lag…anxious to see this myself, because as we all know, switching blackberries is a chore, particularly emailing devs for purchased apps to let them know about the new PIN id and all of that crap…

    out of curiosity, how long was yours good before going bad? i figure mine was feeling good for a few weeks, then got laggy, then trackball went off a cliff…

  15. Ryan Lombardo

    I saw recently on Engadget and elsewhere that there was a known issue with the trackball on first run Blackberry Tours, and that the problem had already been fixed. Verizon even said that the Tour has had one of the lowest return rates since they fixed the issue.

  16. I am sorry that you have had such negative experiences. I have owned 3 BB products since 2005: the 7105t, the 8700c, and now the 8900. Blackberries have always been rock solid devices for me. My 8900 has a trackball with none of the issues that you’ve experienced.

  17. I would advise you should try also upcoming Nokia E72. I have been patiently waiting (has turned into a perennial one though). Expectantly, it’s estimated to be released around mid october. The specs look awesome. Let’s hope the phone lives up to the hype. :D