Gary Krakow hates the BlackBerry Scrollball

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Gary Krakow, Senior Technology Correspondent for is a man on a mission. In love with his BlackBerry 8820, which he has used for six months, Krakow is steaming mad that his BlackBerry’s scrollball no longer works. Interviewing his own IT people, Krakow discovers that the majority of the BlackBerrys used at last about a month before having to be sent back for repairs. Stating that this is a “wake up call for the entire industry” (uh, Gary, how many other smartphone manufacturers do you know that use scroll balls?), Krakow demands that RIM offer the ability to remove and clean the BlackBerry scrollball similar to the old PC mice used in the mid-nineties.

My first thought upon watching this video was, “gee, the people at TheStreet have really dirty hands.” While BBCool HQ has run across the occasional sticky scrollball, our problems are nothing like those of Mr. Krakow and friends. To be fair, BlackBerry support document really doesn’t offer any significant advice on how to deal with the problem, but Gary, there’s a huge difference between the functionality of a $20 mouse and an $800 smartphone! So here’s a protip from us to you: gently wet your thumb before rolling the scrollball. Any unwanted dirt will stick to the moisture on the ball, making it much easier to remove.

To all our IT friends out there, I pose a question: does your company face a similar problem with BlackBerry scrollballs? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Spare Tire Bike Rack
    Right now, the new version of BlackBerry is great.
  • ?ECCT??H?K
    ???-???? ??-?????????? ???????? ??? ??? ????. ?????? ??????? ??????, ??????? ? ??? ????. :)
  • Moogie
    With a wife like that, I don't blame Gary Krakow for wanting to clean his balls:

    She looks like the Geico caveman.
  • BBFanatic
    "This old fart….who someone decided to title as “senior Technology Correspondent” is on a rant of stupidity! Rule number one…..wash your hands!"


    This "Senior Tech" fool (the only thing right in his title is the Senior part...) Is an absolute bonehead. Posting a desparaging video against a company without having any idea of what he's talking about.

    I've owned several BB's and have cleaned the trackball on a few occasions. Had he done a better job of researching his issue he would have seen the multitude of videos/blogs demonstrating how to do this and how pathetically easy it is.

    It's a reality, the nature of the trackball will lend itself to getting dust and other particles inside and quite possibly requiring an occasional cleaning.

    He reminds me of that idiot in that joke years ago who called tech support because of a "blank screen." The tech, after hours upon hours of trouble shooting realized that the computer was unplugged....
  • Stephani
    I was just introduced to the world of the Blackberry with my BB Curve. I got it in November - love it.

    Today after having lunch with a friend I noticed that the trackball wasn't rolling very easily to the left, so I figured it was dirty and took it apart to clean it. Cleaned it, put it back in, and it was still having problems. Got out the handy dandy can of compressed air, checked the ball again and the rollers, and put it back in. Still not moving to the left. Took it out again, and that's when I noticed that something had worn a teeny groove in the roller 'grips', probably a speck of dirt or something that got into the housing and got stuck.

    There are spaces around the ball itself - no matter how much you wash your hands, something is gonna eventually get in there, unless you live in a bubble. Rather than drive 30 minutes away to my closest cellular provider's location, I ordered a replacement OEM part, should be here by the middle of the week.

    Consider yourself lucky if you've never had such a problem with your Blackberry, but certainly don't consider others to be stupid or 'dirty'.
  • Jennifer
    I just published on another thread, but my friend cleaned her blackberry last week and totally broke it, so I didn't go that route. I ordered a new one from at another friend's recommendation and it arrived the next day. The instructions made it easy to fix in a second and I didn't have to worry about breaking anything. Great customer service too. Hopefully this helps someone!
  • BBGuy
    Step-By-Step just for Gary:
  • Z.Smith
    I run , and in my experience, preventative cleaning is the best remedy. The trackballs are just prone to getting dirty, I fix Blackberry's all day long and it's a very common issue, hence the reason I would build a site to sell them. But anyways, check out the link, I've got some good good cleaning instruction on there, both for simple cleaning and actually takng it apart. Taking it apart is a bit of work so many people would rather just buy a new one for $12.99 than deal with the headache since replacing them is very easy. I sell them on my site for $12.99 with Free shipping. Anyways, I hope my answer was helpful. I appreciate you dropping my site Rampers! And if anyone in IT wants to do a bulk purchase I'd be happy to work with you on pricing. Just click on any of the e-mail addresses on my site, they all come straight to my BB!
    - Zach
  • Rampers
    I just replaced my trackball for $12.99. Go to, free shipping. Replacement took less than 1 minute. All you do is pop out the silver ring around the ball and the assembly comes right out.
  • northstahr
    Haven't heard a peep out of our users who use the 8820 or the Curve. We've been using the devices for almost a year.
  • atleastbehandy
    Why can't RIM make an optical scroll ball? I have not had a ball mouse since Clinton was in the Whitehouse. Seriously: I want a laser pick-up in my Blackberry!
  • Icepak
    This happens a lot with women users and their damn lotion all the time. That buildup over time destroys the scroll ball.
  • Richard Puckett
    Trackball on my 8800 went out after about 1.5 years. Luckily, the 8130 that I won had arrived shortly before then so I just had to cannibalize the trackball from that. Ordered a replacement from Ebay and now everything's back up. What's the problem, again?

    Sounds like TehStreet is spending too much time playing BrickBreaker and not enough on earning their "senior" technology titles.
  • n8d
    I concur with everyone else.

    Pull the ring off from around the trackball (straight at the top by the screen and pull down).
    Flip device upside down and smack against your hand.
    Put trackball in cup of rubbing alcohol for 5 minutes.
    Use compressed air to blow any crap away that's on the phone underneath where the trackball lays.
    Remove trackball from rubbing alcohol.
    Dry with the compressed air.
    Make sure the rollers are free of debris
  • @Bla1ze,

    Obviously you're giving them the URL after that, right? It's all about customer education!!! =D
  • Steve
    I replaced my scroll ball after about 6 months for the grand total of $4.92 by buying one online. It was easy to replace on my Curve.

    My blackberry spends a lot of its time in pretty dirty places (e.g. my pocket!) and still functions well.
  • dave
    wow, this just proves that GK AND the IT department at “” are idiots. perhaps if they stopped shoveling pringles into their mouths and then using their trackball, they wouldn’t have an issue. replacement trackballs on amazon are like $20 for a 5 pack. Get over it.
  • Kyle
    Ouch. This is really embarrassing for a "Senior Technology Correspondent"
  • Nick Starr
    There is a 1 year warranty on all phones sold by T-Mobile, just call them up and they will send out a new one. Stop complaining.
  • Nathaniel
    We have 30 BB's in the field with about half being newer ones with a trackball. Not one have come back with a defective trackball. I think the old ones had more issues with the roller wheel on the side.

    I think they're just really filthy people there and they don't take care of their BB's since it's not theirs. People tend to treat company equipment like crap.
  • JasonYoug
    I've fixed multiple phones primarily from users who keep the phone in their pocket where it collects lint. Contrary to what he says in the video, you can indeed take the trackball apart just like a mouse and clean the rollers. ATT will tell you that the device is bricked and charge you if you're out of warranty but the device can be fixed quite simply. 10 minutes tops.
  • tonyjschroeder
    In short my feeling is that you're an idiot.

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate when people have problems with their hardware and break things, but the bottom line is you bought it, you broke it.

    Point one. My phone works fine as well as the majority of my companies phones. Many people have had their devices for over a year and are not complaining and actually our oldest devices still all still work fine. This leads me to believe the likely problem is your treat your hardware like crap.

    Point Two, you consistently use the wrong terminology, therefore you clearly are unfamiliar with the technology and you are in no way an intelligent consumer or user. Since you chose not to educate yourself I consider your point of view, intentionally ignorant therefore invalid and unusable for future advice.

    Point Three, poor sampling. You've made your claim against a device without interviewing but one guy. It's like walking up to a guy in New York and asking him something only to find out he's sexist/racist/whatever-ist then displaying to all the world that all New Yorkers are the same way. Also, have you tried any of the tips to fix the problem as suggested? You neglected to comment on any of that.
  • Bla1ze
    Well working for a major US carrier I exchange 4-5 BB's through the warranty program daily, but that's only cause the end users of the devices don't have the knowledge on how to fix the issue themselves, these are also people who if I said you should visit bbcool for some good reads would respond with "what's that?"
  • tom
    Out of 5 8800 in out iventory 3 had to be collected for repairs after only a few month because of trackball issues.

    Good site: t-mobile germany replaced them next day.
  • Mark
    Hold down the mute button until the device is in standby-mode. Then forcefully push the trackball in the direction that isn't working.

    That has fixed my trackball several times after having gotten dirt in it. I've yet to replace a trackball.....

    perhaps the atomic trackball will fix this issue
  • Cyrus
    This old fart....who someone decided to title as "senior Technology Correspondent" is on a rant of stupidity! Rule number one.....wash your hands!

    Now he goes on complaining that there is no way to take the track ball out and clean it. YES THERE IS! pop the plastic ring around the track ball and turn the bb over. VOILA! Track ball is out. if you couldn't figure that much it. Although as a senior tech must not know what google is yet!

    And what kind of IT department is it that doesn't know this! Not only that...rather then reduce down time significantly, if the track ball is truly can order 10 replacements on the net for roughly 20 dollars!

    Man....i have to get a job at this place!
  • nosidam
    Gotta be honest here...we have over 200 devices and I hear very little about the ball not working. Yes, a case here and there with a bit of dirt, but nothing warranting sending the device back. What the heck are they doing over there at
  • MobileAdmin
    Any IT person has these tools of the trade and I've fixed many issues with them:

    can of compressed air

    Using both will return that trackball to it's spinning centipede rolling.

    Didn't BB have a KB on this months ago? The trackwheels broke all the time too.

    Mobile devices take a ton of abuse and I'll attest that Blackberries far pretty well compared to other devices.
  • portorikan
    I've had to replace my 8830 because the scroll ball stopped working and that's my biggest concern about the phone. I love the scroll ball, but I worry that it can break down way too easy.
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