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Sunday, November 02, 2008

No WiFi in the Vodafone BlackBerry Storm - a serious mistake?

In the past, I've not been convinced by some of the conspiracy theories around some operators' alleged rabid diapproval of WiFi. Yes, Verizon has been a bit of an outlier on this, and some parts of Asia (China, Japan, Korea) have not been especially enthusiastic dual-mode WiFi/cellular.

My general impression is that when it comes to smartphones, most of the more progressive operators are now relatively open-minded about WiFi. It works OK, battery performance has improved, it's not generally used for canibalising applications - most VoWLAN is usually incremental not substitutive - and it's seen as an important utility by a fair proportion of users and developers. Not only that, but WiFi is starting to be valuable in offloading data traffic from the macrocellular network.

The situation with featurephones has been a bit different - WiFi has been seen as less valuable, software complexities reduce its utility, and the customer base is perhaps more likely to make expensive technical support calls about relatively trivial problems that smartphone-using peers could fix themselves.

The iPhone has demonstrated how appreciated it is. And almost all other top-end smartphones now have WiFi - Nokias, various Windows devices, the Android G1, quite a few of the recent Samsung Symbian phones and so on. So does the BlackBerry Bold.

Which makes its exclusion from the Verizon / Vodafone BlackBerry Storm all the more mystifying - and, to be honest, it seems rather cynical. Yes, I know it's got EVDO and HSPA in it, so it's a fairly complex RF platform, but that's not a sufficient excuse to hobble what could otherwise be legitimately seen as a proper iPhone peer.

Given that Vodafone has quite a few other WiFi-enabled devices in its portfolio, I guess the finger of blame must point at Verizon on this, which has a lot of "prior" when it comes to hobbling handset features. A real shame, in my view.


Unknown said...

Completely agree, i have a blackberry pearl at the mo, and i do use wifi a lot, even though web browsing is somewhat cumbersome on it. When i heard about the blackberry storm coming out i was soooooo excited and ready to part with my hard earned cash even though my current contract hasnt come to an end. Then i hearit has no wifi, couldnt believe it, i was even prepared to swap to vodaphone, whom i thoroughly despise (with the power of a thousand suns!) now its def a no go, thinking of getting the HTC touch HD or the omnia instead. Gutted!!!!!

BBusyB said...

It's irrtating to see companies shooting themselves in the foot.

Wifi, for most people is not a replacement for mobile Broadband. Its a companion.

I know quiet a few people who, because they don;t have wifi on their phones and don't see the need for mobile data, mainly use their smartphones as expensive PDA's.

If they had wifi, they would probably get the benefit of having access to data on the move, in turn boosting their bills even further (And they're not cheapskate's , they just don't see the need).

That's How I got started, and convinced a few others to just try it, and once you get used to it, you don't want to give it up when you walk out of the house / office.

I Could no more go back to using a non smartphone as I could gettng one without Wifi.

Anonymous said...

What are the benfits of having wifi?