Chris Kranky

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When your Blackberry isn’t your Blackberry

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

I've used
a Research in Motion Blackberry Pearl 8100 from T-Mobile for several
years. It's a great mobile, small, slick, stylish, fits in my pocket
and I've adapted to it's slightly weird keyboard. T-Mobile easily
unlocked the phone for me as well so I could use other SIM card when
traveling. All is great.

While living in London, I purchased a newer version of the Pearl, the
8110. It's the same phone only it has GPS. My account was with Vodafone
and they too happily unlocked the phone. I really enjoyed the GPS
especially with the updated mobile Zagat restaurant application.

I could simple turn on my GPS and ask Zagat, "tell me where a good
restaurant is nearby". It's a classic problem we all have in a new
city. I used the feature alot in New York and found a lot of excellent
restaurants generally only a few blocks from where I was standing.

returning to the US, I put my T-Mobile SIM card into my Vodafone
branded Pearl 8110 and that's when my problems began. The phone part of
the device works fine, I can easily make and receive phone calls.

the Blackberry service doesn't. I lost my browser icon so I couldn't
surf the web and worse my Blackberry email service started sending me
duplicate ghost inbound emails. It was maddening deleting all of this.

I called T-Mobile and after 2 hours of them trying various things they
agreed to send me to Research in Motion's Tier 2 direct support group
in Dallas, TX.  The RIM support organization then spent another hour
trying to right my phone. Alas they couldn't.

As it turns out
each RIM Blackberry is encoded to a specific service provider. Since
T-Mobile doesn't support the 8110 (only the 8110) the RIM Blackberry
Internet Service (BIS) was getting confused about what "service books"
to send my phone to enable specific features.

Now T-Mobile could
care less if I'm using the 8110 or the 8100 nor could Vodafone. It's a
problem with the BIS. I'm disappointed but this is a classic case of my
"device" not being truly free to do what it wants. Protecting me from
bad things unfortunately has left a bitter taste in my mouth and
longing for a truly open device.