Technology

New BlackBerry Lost Without GPS


Verizon Wireless' glacial pace for qualifying new devices meant the 8830 was released without the GPS application. Be patient, it's coming

E.A. Fernandez asks: I recently acquired a BlackBerry 8830 from Verizon Wireless (VZ) after being assured it came with an application to use the built-in GPS location tracking feature. Well, as you know, it doesn't. How come all other wireless providers offer GPS capability in the 8830 but VZW can't? They've given me a range of answers that do not make sense. Why don't they activate this integral part of an otherwise wonderful new device? Do they have plans to activate it in the near future?

It's definitely frustrating. The BlackBerry (RIMM) 8830 World Edition is an excellent smart phone with built-in GPS, which means it can pick up coordinates from the Global Positioning System of satellites orbiting the earth. Verizon Wireless offers a good navigation application in VZ Navigator from Networks in Motion. But while you can use VZ Navigator on 34 different Verizon handsets, you can't get it on the 8830.

The problem is Verizon's legendary—or notorious, depending on how you look at it—process for hardware and software quality assurance. Verizon is known for being extremely thorough and slow in its process for qualifying phones and other devices for use on its network. A Verizon spokesperson says the company planned from the beginning to offer VZ Navigator on the 8830. But because the testing wasn't completed in time, the company decided to release the handset without it and make it available for download "very soon." So you will be able to add the service to your BlackBerry as soon as Verizon releases it, whenever that might be.

As you have discovered, it can be difficult to get straight answers to simple questions about all sorts of high-tech equipment, not just phones. I'm not sure whether it is deliberate obfuscation or a simple fear of saying "I don't know," but nonsensical answers are common. Obviously, there's no reason why the 8830 can't run a GPS application since you can get Sprint's (S) version of the 8830 with the TeleNav navigation service.

Wildstrom is Technology You columnist for BusinessWeek. You can contact him at techandyou@businessweek.com .

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