Is AT&T Crippling The Blackberry So It Doesn't Make The iPhone Look Bad?

Over at Blackberry Cool they’re claiming that an AT&T insider told them AT&T had bullied RIM into crippling the Blackberry’s GPS features so it wouldn’t make the iPhone look bad in comparison.

Is this true? We do not know. The post claims an “inside source.”

From Blackberry Cool:

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 have literally no idea if this is true or not, but if it does turn out to be true, the T-Mobile Blackberry will be a bit cooler than the AT&T one. MacNN points out that the media-rich iPhone isn’t really meant to compete with the Blackberry:

…the move would be unusual for the carrier as it typically encourages the adoption of BlackBerry phones for business customers and only sees a small amount of income from TeleNav’s service, which is available at $6 per month for GPS use during ten trips and $10 for unlimited trips. The 8820 includes no camera and is generally considered at odds with Apple’s phone, which focuses largely on media playback and other personal uses.

Seems like a dumb move to us and an unconsumer-friendly move at that. If it’s true. And we’re not saying that it is. Just to make that abundantly clear.

EXCLUSIVE: AT&T neuters the BlackBerry 8820 in favor of the iPhone [Blackberry Cool via MacNN]

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  1. fuzzycuffs says:

    Rumor has it that the HTC Kaiser is also coming to AT&T at the end of this month (or September 7th, both seem to be dates floating around). Another device that has push mail, a real keyboard, 3G, and GPS. I’m actually holding off on getting a new phone (and switching from TMO’s lack of 3G) because I want to get the Kaiser. I wonder if the same unsubstantiated rumors hold true for that device.

  2. ThePlaz says:

    I think it’s because they get part of TeleNav’s fee. They don’t want people using Google Maps (which is free and supports some GPSs now, with more to come later)

    Carriers have alwys restricted apps and features. What’s new here? I think it has nothing to do with the iPhone.

  3. Buran says:

    Of course, you could always get an unlocked one — that’s one great thing about GSM. I’m eyeing the second-gen iphone, or something much like it, for later this year or early next, and GSM lets me look at phones from anywhere as long as they work on US frequencies. (why can’t we standardize? We always have to be “better”…)

  4. hoo_foot says:

    I’ve always associated AT&T with “dumb” and “unconsumer-friendly”, so this move wouldn’t suprise me in the least.

  5. WillACarpenter says:

    Maybe I’m alone in this…but I doubt it.

    I went to my local(ish) Apple Store, and I was playing with computers that had monitors that upon my girlfriend seeing stated “The guy that owns this must be compensating for something” (ala Shrek) (love that girl) and then we both moved to the iPhone section and played about…

    Afer a while I noticed something about the iPhone: I love it as a music player, a movie player, and it’s not all that bad as an internet device…but I loathe that thing as a cellphone. I made a call to my girlfriend (who I made go to the Coach store next door) on the iPhone and the sound wasn’t good, the reception was bad, and it felt like an iPod that I was holding up to me head. I hung up the iPhone and used my own cellphone…not a single problem. Figuring it may be Verizon’s superior network in my area (I’m not saying Verizon is great or anything, just that where I live their coverage is monopolistic..Go figure..) So I asked the guy next to me who his provider was and he excitedly told me AT&T (as this mean that when he’d saved up the money he could get and iPhone and not have to disconnect with another service provider etc) I asked him if I could make the same test call, and he obliged. No problem their either.

    Then I tried text messaging…I could probably get used to it… But I’m not paying that kind of money to “probably get used to” using my phone, for the PRIMARY FUNCTIONS THAT I USE A PHONE FOR!

    I don’t hate the iPhone, and if you want one GET THAT THING, but it’s not for me yet. Though I expect it to keep getting better and better, just as the iPod has.

    //

  6. waxer says:

    Carriers manipulate the handsets all the time – to their benefit of course. DUN (dial up networking) is just one of them. If this is disabled then the phone cannot be used as a modem but rather, you’d need to buy an “air card”. Air card = another revenue stream for the carrier. Regarding T-Mobile, they may not have the biggest network but JD power often ranks them high in customer service and none of the other national carriers can beat their plans or even come close. AT&T blows.

  7. s35flyer says:

    Rumor or not I do know this. I had Cingular nationwide for several years and the service was outstanding, everywhere I went. Since ATT has taken over in the past month, I am getting phone messages and the phone never rings. Sometimes I am getting messages that were left up to a day before, places I used to have service, I am now seeing dead-spots. I do not understand how if they just take over something these things can change so much, but I can say without a doubt something is up.

  8. SenorChach says:

    This is exactly like Rogers (in Canada) not wanting customers to use Wi-Fi on the E61. God forbid that they have customers accessing the internet fast and free. So they and other US carriers commissioned Nokia to make the E62 which is exactly like the E61 minus the 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi.

  9. pete says:

    Verizon did the same thing to the 8830, so they can sell you VZ Navigator for $10 a month.
    It’s not about the iPhone, it’s about protecting your revenue streams.

  10. Transient says:

    The iPhone conspiracy is bogus. However, anyone voting for the “extra feature sale” logic is a big winner today. Things are a little out of hand in the cellular phone sales industry.

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    AT&T not implementing the feature out of their incompentence, tech laggardness or to enhance revenue, I can see. Unilaterally doing it as a supposed tactic for the iPhone, less likely. But Apple marketing is smart – probably the smartest in the tech space, if not beyond. And I think the Apple people recognize “consumer” vs “professional” as separate categories. There’s some overlap, but primarily, they’re aimed for different markets.

    Apple wouldn’t do something this dumb for devices that don’t directly compete. And certainly not thru a 3rd party where “everyone” at AT&T would be cognizant of the “conspiracy”.

    Did you hear, the CIA blew up the WTC? Same level of credibility – just cuz it’s on the nets dont make it true.

  12. tz says:

    [www.openmoko.org]

    The answer to proprietary solutions.

    (in process, but soon probably will leapfrog the iPhony).