Wow. I must say, this is probably the biggest piece of news we’ve ever broken here at BlackBerry Cool — and possibly the one that’s made us the angriest. We’ve just received word from one of our friends inside AT&T that 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.
First, this is a major piss off to AT&T customers looking to get their hands on the BlackBerry 8820 mid-September, but what’s more important is why AT&T chose to do this. 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. Sounds a little crazy, until you realize that a GPS/Wi-Fi’d device with push email and no funny-texting touch screen that’s subsidized in price sounds a bit more appealing than a $500 device that enterprise customers can’t use.
We’ve been told that RIM was apparently livid over the decision (and with good reason), but AT&T basically said “do it or we won’t buy the 8820 or any future devices from you” and RIM backed down. Our AT&T informant also said that this was a call made by top RIM/AT&T brass, which sheds new light on Jim Balsillie’s statement that the carriers are one of RIM’s three masters.
So, to recap:
— The AT&T BlackBerry will have neutered GPS capabilities
— The T-Mobile 8820 will be better than the AT&T version
— Apple has won the first round against RIM
Let’s check that last statement for a second. Our informant was unsure if Steve Jobs called the hit, or if this decision was made solely by AT&T to protect their serious investment in the iPhone. The fact of the matter, however, is that RIM’s biggest North American customer just crippled one of their enterprise devices in favor of a consumer device that supposedly doesn’t compete with the BlackBerry.
Post a comment and let us know what you think about this crazy news. Personally, we never liked AT&T that much in the first place, but we like them even less for screwing over the BlackBerry faithful so they can make more money.