AT&T BlackBerry 8820 GPS Fear Mongering Unfounded

BlackBerry 8820
By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Aug 2007 03:41 pm EDT
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Jibi, a legend in the BlackBerry world and owner of the coolest online 'handle', has set the record straight on all of the BlackBerry 8820 GPS 'Neutering' stories of the past two weeks.

For those out of the loop, it started with BlackBerry Cool's August 16th Exclusive, which  spread word that the soon-to-be-released BlackBerry 8820 would have its GPS 'neutered', which if believed as read, meant that all GPS applications with the exception of Telenav would be unuseable. The suspected reasoning was that AT&T was choosing Apple over RIM in their quest to push iPhone sales.

As true BlackBerry Addicts, at CrackBerry.com we were quick to report the 'rumor' and perpetuate the fear to our six or seven daily readers (that's my job, don't hold it against me!). :)

Fast forward to August 28th, and I posted a tip I received announcing September 4th as the launch date for the AT&T BlackBerry 8820 as was seen on AT&T mailers. This same correspondence made no 'official' mention of the GPS being anything less than intact, which made us question "What's going on here?!"

Proceed to August 29th, and our buds at BBCool posted a story saying it looked like CrackBerry.com's tip was right, as they had news that RIM and AT&T were negotiating a deal to leave the BlackBerry 8820 un-neutered. The Reason? AT&T didn't like all the negative feedback they were receiving. Everyone danced with joy that the BlackBerry 8820 would come through with its 'boys' fully functioning! Then as the BlackBerry Blogosphere was rejoicing its job well done in having made a Carrier change its tune, along came Jibi writing for the BG to set the record straight. more after the jump

Jibi, the Jedi of BlackBerry, relays that this whole reaction to the BlackBerry 8820 'neutering' rumor is essentially nonsense.

The so called 'neutering' on the AT&T model was nothing more than a string of code in the device's LBS.alx file which would hide the BlackBerry Maps icon from the desktop, despite the application being installed on the device. It's the same type of code that is used to block other vendors' themes from showing (learn how to unlock vendor themes here). So Why would AT&T do this? According to Jibi,

This is hardly a limitation or a restriction, but rather a strategic means for AT&T and TeleNav to gather $10 in additional monthly service fees from unwitting customers. TeleNav is worth the subscription, but some customers would prefer to go the free route (BlackBerry Maps, Google Maps). The BlackBerry 8820 has never been hardware-restricted for GPS services nor was it restricted to the use of TeleNav only.

It makes sense - you have a brand new phone with GPS. You want to see where in the world you are. Telenav is there and ready to use, and you don't see any other 'free' alternatives, so you subscribe! Remember, the majority of people who will end up buying a BlackBerry 8820 won't take the time to neither edit the .alx file to make the BlackBerry Maps icon appear again nor start downloading other mapping programs, when a great application like Telenav is there ready for use. Cha ching...easy money!

Going back to BBCool's new claim that RIM and AT&T are working out a deal to 'unneuter' the 8820, if this is infact the case we should be seeing the BlackBerry Maps desktop icon on the new BlackBerry 8820. Our tip put the release date at September 4th, which is coming up quick. I guess we will find out soon.

And that just about brings another tale from the BlackBerry BlogOpera to a close. Pretty entertaining! I'm sure another BlogOpera will start soon enough.

Be sure to read Jibi's article for details. 

Topics: Editorial

1 comment

Hugh

Hi...I read this and just bought one of these and I can't find Blackberry Maps...I see a telenav icon, but can't find the GPS without it anywhere...Are you sure they didn't disable it?