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.jumpsocial.com/ Darcy

    What a bunch of “rent seeking” nut bars.

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

  • 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.

  • crabby

    This is barely even news. The number of wireless devices with crippled features must number well into the dozens. AT&T, Sprint, VZW… they all do it. So, again… why is this even news?!?!?

  • crabby

    This is barely even news. The number of wireless devices with crippled features must number well into the dozens. AT&T, Sprint, VZW… they all do it. So, again… why is this even news?!?!?

  • http://WWW.BELLSOUTH.NET/ ANTHONY CHASE CROWLEY

    i signed up for the iphone

  • http://WWW.BELLSOUTH.NET ANTHONY CHASE CROWLEY

    i signed up for the iphone

  • Jeff

    Elliot, you are not a bright person. Loosing? Typo’s? PDA’s ? There way…. It’s hard to take you seriously when you obviously could not pass a high school grammar test.

    Underage workers in other countries, that lose their jobs due to protests and boycotts organized by dumbass do-gooders in the states, often GO HUNGRY or worse. Your values are not their values.

  • Jeff

    Elliot, you are not a bright person. Loosing? Typo’s? PDA’s ? There way…. It’s hard to take you seriously when you obviously could not pass a high school grammar test.

    Underage workers in other countries, that lose their jobs due to protests and boycotts organized by dumbass do-gooders in the states, often GO HUNGRY or worse. Your values are not their values.

  • moebugge

    power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. screw att

  • http://cnet moebugge

    power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. screw att

  • http://snapvoip.blogspot.com/2007/08/at-favouring-iphone-over-blackberry.html sol@rion

    I just got one and mad as hell. I will see to the hacks and if does not work look for service else where!

  • http://snapvoip.blogspot.com/2007/08/at-favouring-iphone-over-blackberry.html sol@rion

    I just got one and mad as hell. I will see to the hacks and if does not work look for service else where!

  • And WiFi Crippled Too

    You should also note that AT&T has chosen to cripple the WiFi as well, as they will NOT be enabling VoIP (i.e., UMA), so you can’t use your WiFi for voice calls…only data.

  • And WiFi Crippled Too

    You should also note that AT&T has chosen to cripple the WiFi as well, as they will NOT be enabling VoIP (i.e., UMA), so you can’t use your WiFi for voice calls…only data.

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

    Where did you hear about the Wi-Fi?

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

    Where did you hear about the Wi-Fi?

  • luke

    Hey, does “unlocking” these phones restore their original capacities? i’ve never understood how the unlocking works… anyone?

  • luke

    Hey, does “unlocking” these phones restore their original capacities? i’ve never understood how the unlocking works… anyone?

  • luke

    Hey, does “unlocking” these phones restore their original capacities? i’ve never understood how the unlocking works… anyone?

  • Justin Bobby

    Will there be a way to unlock the 8820′s wifi capabilities??

  • Justin Bobby

    Will there be a way to unlock the 8820′s wifi capabilities??

  • http://www.ActionAmerica.org/ John Gaver

    Apple had a chance to make a Blackberry-killer and blew it, with a product that’s not yet ready for prime time. Then RIM had a chance to take advantage of the iPhone’s shortcomings, with the 8820 and they also blew it, by crippling the 8820. This leaves the consumer with a choice of two half-baked products, both requiring serious trade-offs. The question that this raises is, can you purchase a non-crippled 8820 (either from T-Mobile, in the USA or Orange, in the UK) and use it on the AT&T network, without the AT&T limits? If not, then this would be enough to make me wait for version 2 of the iPhone, in the hope that Apple will fix the myriad shortcomings in that device. But, I won’t hold my breath.

  • http://www.ActionAmerica.org/ John Gaver

    Apple had a chance to make a Blackberry-killer and blew it, with a product that’s not yet ready for prime time. Then RIM had a chance to take advantage of the iPhone’s shortcomings, with the 8820 and they also blew it, by crippling the 8820. This leaves the consumer with a choice of two half-baked products, both requiring serious trade-offs. The question that this raises is, can you purchase a non-crippled 8820 (either from T-Mobile, in the USA or Orange, in the UK) and use it on the AT&T network, without the AT&T limits? If not, then this would be enough to make me wait for version 2 of the iPhone, in the hope that Apple will fix the myriad shortcomings in that device. But, I won’t hold my breath.

  • kdkirsch

    This is awful news to hear. It is a perfect example of a “service” provider/Telecom using their unchecked power to dominate consumers. This is exactly why America needs real competition in the industry. We all need to hope that the upcoming wireless spectrum auction results in an open network that doesn’t lock-out/in certain devices. That way WE can buy our device from the manufacturer so that AT&T/Verizon/Sprint don’t have the chance to cripple them. Until real competition shakes up the industry we’re all going to be victims. Like the airlines, the telecoms are oligopolists in a race to the bottom!

  • kdkirsch

    This is awful news to hear. It is a perfect example of a “service” provider/Telecom using their unchecked power to dominate consumers. This is exactly why America needs real competition in the industry. We all need to hope that the upcoming wireless spectrum auction results in an open network that doesn’t lock-out/in certain devices. That way WE can buy our device from the manufacturer so that AT&T/Verizon/Sprint don’t have the chance to cripple them. Until real competition shakes up the industry we’re all going to be victims. Like the airlines, the telecoms are oligopolists in a race to the bottom!

  • http://www.epicturegift.com/ Teann Nash

    I was using my new AT&T Blackberry 8800 to access GPS yesterday 9/1/07. This was the the first time to access this GPS feature. It seemed to work pretty well. Will that change? How will the GPS be affected?

  • http://www.epicturegift.com Teann Nash

    I was using my new AT&T Blackberry 8800 to access GPS yesterday 9/1/07. This was the the first time to access this GPS feature. It seemed to work pretty well. Will that change? How will the GPS be affected?

  • ATT Customer

    What happened to Black Berry 8820, most of the sites mentioned it will be released on September 4th, but 4th has come and gone, but ATT is really not opening their mouth on the release date, this is totally sucks! i will need to look for a better alternative, with unlocked BB8820

  • ATT Customer

    What happened to Black Berry 8820, most of the sites mentioned it will be released on September 4th, but 4th has come and gone, but ATT is really not opening their mouth on the release date, this is totally sucks! i will need to look for a better alternative, with unlocked BB8820

  • ATT Customer 2

    If one gets an unlock BB8820 and still use AT&T. Will this be able to go around the GPS problem?

  • ATT Customer 2

    If one gets an unlock BB8820 and still use AT&T. Will this be able to go around the GPS problem?

  • ATT Customer 2

    If one gets an unlock BB8820 and still use AT&T. Will this be able to go around the GPS problem?

  • Scott

    As someone who has seen AT&T’s decision making first hand, I can guarantee you that MANY different reasons get bandied about for any specific decision. Unless this person was the person that made the decision, they most probably do not know what all the reasons were.

    However, “we can make more money if we do X” is generally considered a strong argument. The executives have a fiduciary/moral responsibility maximize shareholder value and profits.

  • Scott

    As someone who has seen AT&T’s decision making first hand, I can guarantee you that MANY different reasons get bandied about for any specific decision. Unless this person was the person that made the decision, they most probably do not know what all the reasons were.

    However, “we can make more money if we do X” is generally considered a strong argument. The executives have a fiduciary/moral responsibility maximize shareholder value and profits.

  • Scott

    As someone who has seen AT&T’s decision making first hand, I can guarantee you that MANY different reasons get bandied about for any specific decision. Unless this person was the person that made the decision, they most probably do not know what all the reasons were.

    However, “we can make more money if we do X” is generally considered a strong argument. The executives have a fiduciary/moral responsibility maximize shareholder value and profits.

  • http://somacow.com/ Mickey

    I have had the device for a day and a half. I’m seriously considering taking AT&T up on the 30 day satisfaction guarantee.

    I have found that the GPS will work with Google Maps, but the phone seems to reject a lot of other software.

    I also found that the home page on the Media Browser is locked down. The phone comes with 2 copies of a similar browser… one has the Blackberry Logo, and one has the AT&T logo. When the AT&T version of the browser comes up, it keeps forcing the user to go to AT&T’s default home page.

    The network has blocked the use of AIM, so you cannot use AOL Instant Messenger.

  • http://somacow.com Mickey

    I have had the device for a day and a half. I’m seriously considering taking AT&T up on the 30 day satisfaction guarantee.

    I have found that the GPS will work with Google Maps, but the phone seems to reject a lot of other software.

    I also found that the home page on the Media Browser is locked down. The phone comes with 2 copies of a similar browser… one has the Blackberry Logo, and one has the AT&T logo. When the AT&T version of the browser comes up, it keeps forcing the user to go to AT&T’s default home page.

    The network has blocked the use of AIM, so you cannot use AOL Instant Messenger.

  • Jim

    Check out the ATT customer agreement. In the terms of use for the data service it says that service is provided only for ATT “certified” devices. Seems like a loophole….when “the masses” learn to make/buy unlocked devices then the carrier will simply refuse to let them on the network!!!!

    People should think of smartphones as their own “pc”….just shell out the bucks for an unlocked device and then sign up one year with carrier of choice..maintains autonomy and flexibility.

    BTW…if you want real shivers just swing by the Verizon site and take a look at their new customer agreement….one paragraph says that they can put software on your phone which gathers info on usage to be shared with affiliates, vendors and third parties…..oh yeah….I want Verizon loading my phone with spyware!!!!! Give me a land line and an IBM typewriter!!!!

  • Jim

    Check out the ATT customer agreement. In the terms of use for the data service it says that service is provided only for ATT “certified” devices. Seems like a loophole….when “the masses” learn to make/buy unlocked devices then the carrier will simply refuse to let them on the network!!!!

    People should think of smartphones as their own “pc”….just shell out the bucks for an unlocked device and then sign up one year with carrier of choice..maintains autonomy and flexibility.

    BTW…if you want real shivers just swing by the Verizon site and take a look at their new customer agreement….one paragraph says that they can put software on your phone which gathers info on usage to be shared with affiliates, vendors and third parties…..oh yeah….I want Verizon loading my phone with spyware!!!!! Give me a land line and an IBM typewriter!!!!

  • Phaustus

    It doesn’t matter… still not good yet.
    lacking the following VERY important features:
    – 3G modem .. that is the reason why we need wi-fi so much! EDGE network really sucks and again we are not always close to a wi-fi hot spot are we?
    – CAMERA … Yeah right! .. a better BB just without one of the most important accessories on cell phones/pdas nowadays.

    need to say more? we know At&T sucks… but come RIM .. you can do better than that!

  • Phaustus

    It doesn’t matter… still not good yet.
    lacking the following VERY important features:
    – 3G modem .. that is the reason why we need wi-fi so much! EDGE network really sucks and again we are not always close to a wi-fi hot spot are we?
    – CAMERA … Yeah right! .. a better BB just without one of the most important accessories on cell phones/pdas nowadays.

    need to say more? we know At&T sucks… but come RIM .. you can do better than that!

  • Phaustus

    It doesn’t matter… still not good yet.
    lacking the following VERY important features:
    – 3G modem .. that is the reason why we need wi-fi so much! EDGE network really sucks and again we are not always close to a wi-fi hot spot are we?
    – CAMERA … Yeah right! .. a better BB just without one of the most important accessories on cell phones/pdas nowadays.

    need to say more? we know At&T sucks… but come RIM .. you can do better than that!

  • killermiller

    Besides the backstabing Jobs doing in the gps,at&t did it to increase revenue the same as verizon did. Funny how Apple appeals to the hippie fringe…yet can you be more corporate or capitalist than Apple. No cloning…everything proprietary…stupid liberals…

  • killermiller

    Besides the backstabing Jobs doing in the gps,at&t did it to increase revenue the same as verizon did. Funny how Apple appeals to the hippie fringe…yet can you be more corporate or capitalist than Apple. No cloning…everything proprietary…stupid liberals…

  • http://www.graymerica.com/ Andrew Gray

    I tested out both the iPhone and the 8820 and think they both have their pluses and minuses.

    The major minus of the 8820 is that it call 911 when locked in you pocket. Nothing is better than having the police find you because the phone called them while locked.

    I blogged about it if you are interested.
    http://graymerica.com/wpblog/technology/worst-cell-phone-feature-ever-key-locked-blackberry-8820-calls-911/

  • http://www.graymerica.com Andrew Gray

    I tested out both the iPhone and the 8820 and think they both have their pluses and minuses.

    The major minus of the 8820 is that it call 911 when locked in you pocket. Nothing is better than having the police find you because the phone called them while locked.

    I blogged about it if you are interested.
    http://graymerica.com/wpblog/technology/worst-cell-phone-feature-ever-key-locked-blackberry-8820-calls-911/

  • jim campbell

    STARTED CHECKING OUT DIFFERENT PHONES ON INTERNET- I LIKED WHAT I READ ABOUT BLACKBERRY 8820 PHONE-WILL BE USING WITH MY BUSINESS’S-DID NOT NEED CAMERA-SO I ORDERED 8820 FROM ATT-SPENT APPROX AN 1 1/2 HOURS PICKING OUT RIGHT PLAN-NOT ONCE DID ANYONE SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NOT HAVING GPS BLACKBERRY MAPS=
    PHONE IS SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TOMORROW OCT 15=THIS IS GOING TO BE 1 MAD TURKEY IF GPS DOESNT WORK

  • jim campbell

    STARTED CHECKING OUT DIFFERENT PHONES ON INTERNET- I LIKED WHAT I READ ABOUT BLACKBERRY 8820 PHONE-WILL BE USING WITH MY BUSINESS’S-DID NOT NEED CAMERA-SO I ORDERED 8820 FROM ATT-SPENT APPROX AN 1 1/2 HOURS PICKING OUT RIGHT PLAN-NOT ONCE DID ANYONE SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NOT HAVING GPS BLACKBERRY MAPS=
    PHONE IS SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TOMORROW OCT 15=THIS IS GOING TO BE 1 MAD TURKEY IF GPS DOESNT WORK

  • Donnie Berkholz

    @Mickey: You can set up Google Talk (native for BB) to communicate with an AIM transport, using a Jabber client for a desktop OS. I connect to AIM, Yahoo, etc all with Google Talk.

  • Donnie Berkholz

    @Mickey: You can set up Google Talk (native for BB) to communicate with an AIM transport, using a Jabber client for a desktop OS. I connect to AIM, Yahoo, etc all with Google Talk.