EXCLUSIVE: AT&T neuters the BlackBerry 8820 in favor of the iPhone

173 Comments

AT&T neuters the BlackBerry 8820Wow. 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.

  • http://www.wirehousetech.com/ Bill H

    tjhood:
    Just for reference, Cingular (SBC and Bellsouth) bought ATT wireless…..then 4!9 bouth Bell south and then Att. They took the name for land and wireless by default.

  • http://www.wirehousetech.com Bill H

    tjhood:
    Just for reference, Cingular (SBC and Bellsouth) bought ATT wireless…..then 4!9 bouth Bell south and then Att. They took the name for land and wireless by default.

  • Wes

    Why would AT&T rather sell an iPhone, where they have to PAY Apple a ton of money per phone, when they can sell an 8820 for a greater profit margin? The iPhone is a draw to their company, and will be with or without the 8820. The 8820 would just be another great phone in their stable?

    I am not seeing the big picture that AT&T is. Is anyone else?

  • Wes

    Why would AT&T rather sell an iPhone, where they have to PAY Apple a ton of money per phone, when they can sell an 8820 for a greater profit margin? The iPhone is a draw to their company, and will be with or without the 8820. The 8820 would just be another great phone in their stable?

    I am not seeing the big picture that AT&T is. Is anyone else?

  • KevinD

    Carriers often cripple GPS so only their own programs will work with it.

    No conspiracy here. And certainly no Apple influence. Just typical carrier greed.

  • KevinD

    Carriers often cripple GPS so only their own programs will work with it.

    No conspiracy here. And certainly no Apple influence. Just typical carrier greed.

  • Jake

    Let’s face it if the 8800 came out of the gate and broke sales records then BB users would be enjoying full functional gps with there 8820. Because it didn’t do too hot, your in this dilemma. My problem with BB is they make too many different BBs.

  • Jake

    Let’s face it if the 8800 came out of the gate and broke sales records then BB users would be enjoying full functional gps with there 8820. Because it didn’t do too hot, your in this dilemma. My problem with BB is they make too many different BBs.

  • Jake

    Taking a step back and looking at this from a different angle, I think the that standalone gps gives Google an incredible advantage, just think of how fast Google got involved with the Blackberry 8800 along with InfoSpace Findit app.

    At least on the iPhone, Apple’s version of Google Maps is At and t’s version, and the version that can’t be easily ported to other carriers. This seems to open the door for T-mobile and Sprint;’s WiMax platform to work with Google on a truly open Google map platform with full Gps functionality, but this is just speculation on my part.

  • Jake

    Taking a step back and looking at this from a different angle, I think the that standalone gps gives Google an incredible advantage, just think of how fast Google got involved with the Blackberry 8800 along with InfoSpace Findit app.

    At least on the iPhone, Apple’s version of Google Maps is At and t’s version, and the version that can’t be easily ported to other carriers. This seems to open the door for T-mobile and Sprint;’s WiMax platform to work with Google on a truly open Google map platform with full Gps functionality, but this is just speculation on my part.

  • Ed

    Everyone trying to disprove this based on NOTHING but their own speculation are idiots. Just ask the VZW 8830 owners if their GPS works or not. Didn’t think so…

  • Ed

    Everyone trying to disprove this based on NOTHING but their own speculation are idiots. Just ask the VZW 8830 owners if their GPS works or not. Didn’t think so…

  • Bob

    iPhone is SO SO SO much better than a blackberry

  • Bob

    iPhone is SO SO SO much better than a blackberry

  • Bob

    iPhone is SO SO SO much better than a blackberry

  • Attila The Hun

    mistermix

    now you know why I did not buy the Blackberry from Verizon I have account with Verizon all my family 5 phones, but because what they did to BB I opened new account with Cingular and my 2 BB8800 is with them.but it’s look like I have to switch again because I want the BB8820 but not crepeld.

  • http://BlackBerry8820onAT&TbyAugust13th? Attila The Hun

    mistermix

    now you know why I did not buy the Blackberry from Verizon I have account with Verizon all my family 5 phones, but because what they did to BB I opened new account with Cingular and my 2 BB8800 is with them.but it’s look like I have to switch again because I want the BB8820 but not crepeld.

  • hate me

    This is so stupid, even if At&t released this thing with GPS it wouldn’t be better than the iPhone. The iphone is solid enough to stand on its own without any help from the darkside. If Rim and apple got together and released a blackberry connect client for the iphone than all will be well in the universe.

  • hate me

    This is so stupid, even if At&t released this thing with GPS it wouldn’t be better than the iPhone. The iphone is solid enough to stand on its own without any help from the darkside. If Rim and apple got together and released a blackberry connect client for the iphone than all will be well in the universe.

  • if you buy a dog

    Carriers have always called the shots with the handset manufacturers. Steve negotiated a better deal with the carrier for his handset while RIM didn’t, or couldn’t. Handsets have been crippled for years but the manufacturers keep buying the dog that bites them. Then they go buy another one. Complaining is disingenuous.

  • if you buy a dog

    Carriers have always called the shots with the handset manufacturers. Steve negotiated a better deal with the carrier for his handset while RIM didn’t, or couldn’t. Handsets have been crippled for years but the manufacturers keep buying the dog that bites them. Then they go buy another one. Complaining is disingenuous.

  • if you buy a dog

    Carriers have always called the shots with the handset manufacturers. Steve negotiated a better deal with the carrier for his handset while RIM didn’t, or couldn’t. Handsets have been crippled for years but the manufacturers keep buying the dog that bites them. Then they go buy another one. Complaining is disingenuous.

  • Jabbas

    @Bob

    And what can you tell us about the iPhone that will prove that it is “…SO SO SO much better…”? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re showing blind fanboy-ism here. While some people might see this as a black and white issue, it’s really many different shades of gray. The iPhone might be nice for someone who wants style, and doesn’t necessarily care about functionality and security; a typical consumer. The BlackBerry is more suited for people who care about functionality and security, and less about following the Apple cult.

    Not owning either of these devices, I’m just sitting on the sidelines. However, I would like to point out my disgust at the new generation of Apple fans who praise the company’s every move. Get a f**king spine people. Apple isn’t the best company to walk this earth. Far from it. The more I see, the more disgusted I become. I, for one, will never buy another Apple product again. This is not due to the blind fanboy-ism I’ve seen so much of lately, but simply because there are BETTER devices out there.

    I’ve been using Apple products for over 13 years now, and I can say with confidence that Mac OS X sucks, and shouldn’t even be considered a ‘Windows replacement.’ If you’re that desperate to get away from MSFT, get linux.

    –Out

  • Jabbas

    @Bob

    And what can you tell us about the iPhone that will prove that it is “…SO SO SO much better…”? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re showing blind fanboy-ism here. While some people might see this as a black and white issue, it’s really many different shades of gray. The iPhone might be nice for someone who wants style, and doesn’t necessarily care about functionality and security; a typical consumer. The BlackBerry is more suited for people who care about functionality and security, and less about following the Apple cult.

    Not owning either of these devices, I’m just sitting on the sidelines. However, I would like to point out my disgust at the new generation of Apple fans who praise the company’s every move. Get a f**king spine people. Apple isn’t the best company to walk this earth. Far from it. The more I see, the more disgusted I become. I, for one, will never buy another Apple product again. This is not due to the blind fanboy-ism I’ve seen so much of lately, but simply because there are BETTER devices out there.

    I’ve been using Apple products for over 13 years now, and I can say with confidence that Mac OS X sucks, and shouldn’t even be considered a ‘Windows replacement.’ If you’re that desperate to get away from MSFT, get linux.

    –Out

  • Chris

    NDPTAL85 : One of the reason the iPhone is not the enterprise type phone is simply because company negotiated plan do not work with iPhone devices…

  • Chris

    NDPTAL85 : One of the reason the iPhone is not the enterprise type phone is simply because company negotiated plan do not work with iPhone devices…

  • Ploni

    Figures. Apple’s marketing machine has long trumped their technology or other parts of their industry. And AT&T, already in a bad bargain with a device whose features outstrips its connectivity provisioning levels, needs to get an ROI on the iPhone _as opposed_ to their other handhelds.

    What’s lost in all this is the concept that a cell phone is primarily a TELEPHONE. You know: dial a number and have a conversation? The iPhone and Blackberry have both been shown in studies to have a higher drop rate and poorer connectivity (in terms of QOS) than more traditional and focused cell phones. This is the battle of titans not over better phone service, but over features and marketshare on things that, at the end of the day, are relatively irrelevant to the consumer who wants to make a call.

    Check out the Nokia, or even Motorola cell phones if what you need out of a phone is voice communications, and not televovellas or a sprained thumb from e-mail.

  • Ploni

    Figures. Apple’s marketing machine has long trumped their technology or other parts of their industry. And AT&T, already in a bad bargain with a device whose features outstrips its connectivity provisioning levels, needs to get an ROI on the iPhone _as opposed_ to their other handhelds.

    What’s lost in all this is the concept that a cell phone is primarily a TELEPHONE. You know: dial a number and have a conversation? The iPhone and Blackberry have both been shown in studies to have a higher drop rate and poorer connectivity (in terms of QOS) than more traditional and focused cell phones. This is the battle of titans not over better phone service, but over features and marketshare on things that, at the end of the day, are relatively irrelevant to the consumer who wants to make a call.

    Check out the Nokia, or even Motorola cell phones if what you need out of a phone is voice communications, and not televovellas or a sprained thumb from e-mail.

  • Scott G.

    This is unsubstantiated. Verizon has done the same thing to the 8830, however they are not selling the iPhone. Stop writing conspiracy theories and submitting them to slashdot.

  • Scott G.

    This is unsubstantiated. Verizon has done the same thing to the 8830, however they are not selling the iPhone. Stop writing conspiracy theories and submitting them to slashdot.

  • Pete H

    Have anything to do with AT&T at your own peril:

    “EFF files suit against AT&T over NSA spying
    “By Nate Anderson | Published: April 06, 2006 – 10:38AM CT
    “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed the legal documents needed for its class action lawsuit against AT&T to move forward. The EFF is alleging that AT&T has purposely diverted customer traffic to the NSA for years as a means of aiding the NSA’s covert surveillance program that was revealed last December—and they claim to have the documents to prove it.”

    From http://preview.tinyurl.com/2qro52

  • Pete H

    Have anything to do with AT&T at your own peril:

    “EFF files suit against AT&T over NSA spying
    “By Nate Anderson | Published: April 06, 2006 – 10:38AM CT
    “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed the legal documents needed for its class action lawsuit against AT&T to move forward. The EFF is alleging that AT&T has purposely diverted customer traffic to the NSA for years as a means of aiding the NSA’s covert surveillance program that was revealed last December—and they claim to have the documents to prove it.”

    From http://preview.tinyurl.com/2qro52

  • egor

    Hi there,
    those of you have actually used the GPS on Blackberry, how long did you have to wait until it boots up finding all the sattelites?

  • egor

    Hi there,
    those of you have actually used the GPS on Blackberry, how long did you have to wait until it boots up finding all the sattelites?

  • David Metcalf

    Or could it because they charge for TeleNav as a service, and they don’t want to give the same functions away for free?

  • David Metcalf

    Or could it because they charge for TeleNav as a service, and they don’t want to give the same functions away for free?

  • Evil Bob

    This makes me wonder if Rim wouldn’t be better off following Nokia’s footprints and start selling unsubsidize and unlocked devices direct to the consumer. The way us Americans buy cell phones is stupid. Especially with being locked into the contract, we get no savings from actually buying the phone from the carrier, plus we get locked into a contract that we can’t change should we decide services is either too expensive or just plain sucks. Its like buying a subsides car and then having it only run on Citgo Gas.

  • Evil Bob

    This makes me wonder if Rim wouldn’t be better off following Nokia’s footprints and start selling unsubsidize and unlocked devices direct to the consumer. The way us Americans buy cell phones is stupid. Especially with being locked into the contract, we get no savings from actually buying the phone from the carrier, plus we get locked into a contract that we can’t change should we decide services is either too expensive or just plain sucks. Its like buying a subsides car and then having it only run on Citgo Gas.

  • att employee

    It’s more likely that we’ll have the GPS only function with Telenav because WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH TELENAV.
    I doubt highly this has anything to do with iPhone

  • att employee

    It’s more likely that we’ll have the GPS only function with Telenav because WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH TELENAV.
    I doubt highly this has anything to do with iPhone

  • http://gregconquest.com/ Greg Conquest

    The constant crippling of features on mobile phones is a window that allows PDA’s to continue to be relevant.

    If phones cannot take over the eDocument reading, GPS functionality, WiFi connectivity, … because of marketing practices, then we all have a reason to:

    - buy a Palm/WindowsMobile/Nokia N800 type device for greatest functionality
    - buy the cheapest phone and use it for voice and e-mail/texting only.

    If that is where the mobile carriers are pushing us, that is where we should go — much faster than they want us to. Screw them and be happy :-)

    Greg Conquest
    using a Palm Tungsten E2 and a relatively simple mobile phone (keitai) in Japan

  • http://gregconquest.com Greg Conquest

    The constant crippling of features on mobile phones is a window that allows PDA’s to continue to be relevant.

    If phones cannot take over the eDocument reading, GPS functionality, WiFi connectivity, … because of marketing practices, then we all have a reason to:

    - buy a Palm/WindowsMobile/Nokia N800 type device for greatest functionality
    - buy the cheapest phone and use it for voice and e-mail/texting only.

    If that is where the mobile carriers are pushing us, that is where we should go — much faster than they want us to. Screw them and be happy :-)

    Greg Conquest
    using a Palm Tungsten E2 and a relatively simple mobile phone (keitai) in Japan

  • GReg

    I guess AT&T can do whatever they want. I guess we can all choose the carrier WE want (and it won’t be AT&T)

  • GReg

    I guess AT&T can do whatever they want. I guess we can all choose the carrier WE want (and it won’t be AT&T)

  • Chris

    If you don’t like AT&T, editor, then you’re going to hate the king of device cripplers, Verizon Wireless. AT&T has few crippling blemishes on their record in comparison. And let’s face it; the 8820 is just a Wi-Fi’d version of the 8800, the latter of which you can only use TelNav with for GPS anyway. What’s the biggie? Being a new 8800 owner as of today, I’m frustrated about the lack of third-party support for GPS, but this is nothing new- more of the same from the 8800 launch. The iPhone is an incredible asset in AT&T’s pocket- I don’t blame them for protecting it. But one would think it’s special enough in its own amazing right that AT&T wouldn’t feel threatened by a fully-loaded 8820. The interface doesn’t compare and I would think be enough to not worry about it.

  • Chris

    If you don’t like AT&T, editor, then you’re going to hate the king of device cripplers, Verizon Wireless. AT&T has few crippling blemishes on their record in comparison. And let’s face it; the 8820 is just a Wi-Fi’d version of the 8800, the latter of which you can only use TelNav with for GPS anyway. What’s the biggie? Being a new 8800 owner as of today, I’m frustrated about the lack of third-party support for GPS, but this is nothing new- more of the same from the 8800 launch. The iPhone is an incredible asset in AT&T’s pocket- I don’t blame them for protecting it. But one would think it’s special enough in its own amazing right that AT&T wouldn’t feel threatened by a fully-loaded 8820. The interface doesn’t compare and I would think be enough to not worry about it.

  • Chris

    If you don’t like AT&T, editor, then you’re going to hate the king of device cripplers, Verizon Wireless. AT&T has few crippling blemishes on their record in comparison. And let’s face it; the 8820 is just a Wi-Fi’d version of the 8800, the latter of which you can only use TelNav with for GPS anyway. What’s the biggie? Being a new 8800 owner as of today, I’m frustrated about the lack of third-party support for GPS, but this is nothing new- more of the same from the 8800 launch. The iPhone is an incredible asset in AT&T’s pocket- I don’t blame them for protecting it. But one would think it’s special enough in its own amazing right that AT&T wouldn’t feel threatened by a fully-loaded 8820. The interface doesn’t compare and I would think be enough to not worry about it.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ BlackBerry Cool

    @ EGOR:

    Here’s a handy-dany post we did a while back that should help you use GPS on your BlackBerry:

    http://www.blackberrycool.com/2006/12/18/003023/

    Hope this helps!!

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com BlackBerry Cool

    @ EGOR:

    Here’s a handy-dany post we did a while back that should help you use GPS on your BlackBerry:

    http://www.blackberrycool.com/2006/12/18/003023/

    Hope this helps!!

  • http://www.jumpsocial.com/ Darcy

    What a bunch of “rent seeking” nut bars.

    This goes to show that there is still lots more room for competitors.