Yesterday I wrote a post about Garmin’s $99 offer that will give BlackBerry users unlimited access to its GPS software for the lifetime of the device. One commenter asked if BlackBerrys from carriers such as Verizon Wireless that have locked down GPS software could still take advantage of Garmin’s offer. There’s a two-part answer: you can, but it’ll cost you. Of course, Garmin isn’t the villain here. The carriers are trying to push their own navigation solutions (e.g., VZ Navigator) by locking down the GPS capabilities of phones including some versions of the Curve and phones in the 8800 series. Here’s the official response from Garmin:
“Customers with locked-down GPS can still use Garmin Mobile, however it will require them to have an independent Bluetooth/GPS receiver, such as the GPS 10x. They can also use a third-party GPS/Bluetooth receiver with our maps. If their BlackBerry has a locked GPS, it’ll be slightly more than $99.99 because they’d have to buy the one-time-purchase $99.99 maps and a GPS/Bluetooth receiver (the GPS 10x is $99.99).”
In July 2007, jkOnTheRun did a small write-up on this ongoing issue and got the following response from Research In Motion:
“The BlackBerry 8830 smartphone as released by Verizon has had this “full” GPS capability disabled at a software level. Verizon has indicated that they plan to release their own proprietary GPS mapping solution at a later time; possibly VZ Navigator. AT&T and T-Mobile have both taken similar routes with their 8800 series handhelds; locking out GPS access for 3rd party programs and only enabling access to the built-in receiver to the TeleNav program that they sell themselves. If you would like Verizon to enable GPS functionality on the BlackBerry 8830, I suggest you contact them and advise them as much.
The good news, at least, is that I’ve used devices from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile that don’t lock down GPS, so at least some carriers have mended their ways. I realize this issue has been around for a while, but it’s getting ridiculous as competitors are beginning to offer better pricing schemes than Verizon Wireless does. These are devices that have native support for GPS, as created by the manufacturer, yet VZW still chooses to stifle the features in lieu of increased sales of their own software.