It would appear that Bell has decided to back off it’s initial plan to thwart 3rd party access to the GPS radio on it’s BlackBerry units. Who knows if this blog, The Boy Genius Reports or the insane amount of negative posts on Howard Forums had anything to do with it. Maybe the Bell legal team finally realised that what they were about to do was most definitely anti-competitive. Whatever is was fuelled this stupid idea to cripple it’s own devices, somebody at Bell decided to put a stop to it.
The telecoms industry would like nothing more than for us all to leave our laptops, iPods, GPS units and camera’s at home and walk around with only our Star Trek Communicator devices to guide us along. And I’m sure that most of us would be more than happy to do so if it wasn’t for the fact that the current devices still don’t work anywhere near as well as the power devices we already own. On top of this it seems that the Telcos want to charge you top dollar for the privilege of using these new standard features. Remember when the camera-phone erupted onto the scene and the only way to get your fuzzy 0.3 mega pixel mugs of your friends in the pub was to send them as MMS or buy $50 cables and $40 software to download them to a PC. Of course no one could figure out how to load the phone as a USB drive and the whole thing fell apart. So phone makers started using Bluetooth’s Object Push and FTP to send pictures to a Bluetooth enabled computer, the first thing the Telcos did here was cripple the Bluetooth for voice only functions. Again, the phone makers, Palm mainly, added card slots so users could put there pictures on the card and swap things around. Telcos resisted this for a long time as they had no clue how to monetize the new phone feature. Never once did they stop to think about making the user’s life easier, their main concern was to find new ways of making money, or as a fellow blogger puts it: raping the users. At first the Telcos would only allow these features on the smart phones with the narrow minded view that the added data costs would make up for any lost revenue that the devices hardware and software specs took aways for telco features such as picture transfers or cheap emails instead of premium priced MMS & SMS. Let’s not forget that smart phones now sync over the air instead or via USB back up to Outlook, no longer did you need to buy expensive cables and software or and pay the Telco dealer to transfer your data form one device to another. Admittedly, the price of data usage was not cheap, and often the Telco will charge a you a much larger rate if you are using a smart phone over the regular WAP browser on a clam shell. The cost per MB is insane, on the most basic data plan you will pay close to $10 a megabyte of data transfer. Imagine download a $3 song on your smart phone, you are now looking at a $40-$50 song. The artist is still getting only $ 0,10 form the deal but now the Telco is making $49.90 for you to listen to something you could of bought on iTunes for $0,99 had you bee able to resist the urge and stupidity.
This is what the Telcos are banking on, they have set up there entire business model on the hope that you will simply pay your bill and not look into the details too much. Have you ever stopped to think why they charge you a system access fee ? Contrary to what the “guy in the store” might have told you, it’s not a government tax or an imposed contribution for the CRTC. The infamous System Access Fee is a $10 stupidity tax that you can only get out of if you are one of their most loyal customers or on some special promotional plan. Think about it, you are offed a free phone if you sign up for a 2 to 3 year contract and then offered this great sound plan for only $25, you might get call display and voice mail, but you’ll have to pay extra for text messages, access to the Internet, and in some case a GPS navigation feature. Suddenly your $25 plan is now up to $45 if you get the basic phone Internet, but it’s not over yet, you still haven’t added the Stupidity Access Fee and the actually taxes. So enough you are staring down the barrel of a $70 phone bill for the next 36 months. That equates to $2520 over 3 years, did you know that your cable service cost you less than that? And guess what for only another $75 you could be leasing a car. Breathe… Breathe… it’ll be alright. The Canadian government has opened up the airwaves a little more and is allowing others to finally come and play with the Tri-factor of Evil which is the current state of telecoms in The Great White North. Soon these new boys will come and offer all kinds of new services and devices, which should drive down the price of your monthly bill. As it stands, all have vowed to abolish the system access fee and some are even talking of not charging you for the privilege of receiving phone calls and text message. This European model of selling phones should start to level the playing field, at least we hope.
In the meantime, most of us are biding our time in month 18 of our 36 month contracts and trying not to buy an iPhone or a G1 that would force us to renew for another 3 years of hard time in stupidity hell. As we wait, I’m sure there will be a few more GPSGate types of scandalous behaviour as the big three scramble to rape their existing user base.