Do you remember when we first started hearing about the BlackBerry 8800? One of the main features, so we thought, was Wi-Fi. Now that the BlackBerry 8800 is here, no Wi-Fi.
It it isn’t like the technology isn’t here. Other manufacturers put Wi-Fi in their devices of similar size. Many say that the BlackBerry 8800 actually has Wi-Fi built in and that it is just disabled by they carriers. If this is the case, why in the world would a wireless carrier disable a feature that just about everyone wants?
Because Wireless carriers hate Wi-Fi.
Hate is a very strong word so I will qualify it just a bit. Wireless carriers “hate” Wi-Fi that they don’t control and sell to you. It is one thing when a wireless carrier doesn’t make money because of technology. It is quite another when they lose money because of it and that’s exactly what will happen when when Wi-Fi starts popping up in BlackBerrys and other smartphones that historically haven’t had Wi-Fi built in.
You may be saying to yourself, “This can’t be true. Many other smartphones are Wi-Fi enabled.” Well, you would be right, however, you have to look at the history of those devices. Remember the Palm Pilot? It was the BlackBerry before the BlackBerry was the BlackBerry. If you think back, Palm started sticking Wi-Fi Palm devices long before the Treo came out. You have the same situation with Windows Mobile, then Pocket PC, devices. You had Wi-Fi PCMCIA cards, SD cards, and PDAs with built-in Wi-Fi, before smartphones started to become popular.
As Palm and Microsoft starting coming out with wireless in their devices, carriers had to accommodate for Wi-Fi to some extent because so much of those devices functionality for the previous 3 years was built around Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was a necessary evil as far as the carriers were concerned.
This, however, is not the case for BlackBerrys and other smartphones that historically, haven’t had Wi-Fi. Carriers have been able to charge a premium for unlimited data plans on BlackBerry devices because of their always on nature to email that has made the BlackBerry the most popular smartphone / PDA on the planet. Truth be told, however, email uses a very small amount of data in the grand scheme of things. Web browsing, downloading attachments, and all the new multimedia things that you can do on the latest model BlackBerrys are what eat up bandwidth.
Additionally, these are the things that would be best suited for using a Wi-Fi connection for if one was available. By the BlackBerry 8800 not being 3G, it’s users may become all too familiar with switching to Wi-Fi mode when it is available. In fact, users may start to opt out of those unlimited data plans, simply because Wi-Fi is faster and possibly even free. Remember, email doesn’t actually use all that much data.
Oh, and let’s not forget about Voice Over IP. Can you imagine a BlackBerry with Skype Client that for around $30 bucks per year a user could make unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada? The Wireless carriers can.
That’s why wireless carriers hate Wi-Fi.