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When error messages deceive…

Within minutes of the announcement, I had RIM’s new Facebook application loaded on my Blackberry and was showing it off around the office.  As the CEO of a company with products on both Blackberry AND Facebook, this is terribly exciting.  Status updates, friends lists, friend adds, pokes, wall posts, and messages are all available over the RIM push architecture.  Nice.  It blows the tires off the Facebook’s old m.facebook.com mobile application.  MIA? The newsfeed, and third party applications.

My partner Howard, a Bell Mobility subscriber, had an entirely different experience.  He was presented with the following message when he tried to download the application onto his Blackberry.

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Howard made a call to Bell Mobility support to ask why his access to Facebook was blocked.  The service rep, a lady by the name of Brenda Henry, explained that Bell doesn’t support this application, and therefore it’s not allowed.

Not allowed!

A very irate Howard then asked what right they had to block him from loading whatever software he wanted on the device.  Brenda stuck to the party line, saying that they didn’t support it, and therefore he couldn’t load it. "The only software we support is MSN", she said.  "What about Google, then?", asked Howard.  "I’ve got all kinds of Google applications on my Blackberry".  "I am sorry sir, but we only support MSN."

A call to the Bell Canada media relations department yielded nothing more than a commitment to call back.

Checking with friends at RIM, however, revealed that the message itself is a little misleading.  The wireless service provider isn’t the issue.  The application is only available for OS 4.2 and higher, which Bell hasn’t released on the 87xx series yet.

Too bad… there was a juicy blog posting in there about how the wireless "internet" and the real internet differ.  It will have to wait for another time.   Meanwhile, the gang in Waterloo should probably make their error message a little more clear or the team at Bell is going to be dealing with a whole lot more irate callers like Howard.  This is the sort of stunt Microsoft used to get dinged for twenty years ago.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Gary Will October 24, 2007, 2:59 pm

    Wouldn't load on my BlackBerry either, and it's through Rogers. Same error message. Of course, I can still access Facebook — I just can't get the new app (and now it isn't even offered to me anymore at facebook.com). Terrible launch.

  • Alec October 24, 2007, 3:19 pm

    Apparently no Canadian carrier has offered OS 4.2 on older Blackberrys. The PR guy at Bell committed that he would find out for me when they would. Stay tuned.

  • Saad Shakhshir October 24, 2007, 4:01 pm

    By older, how old do you mean? It's available for the 8700, the 7130 and maybe others on Rogers.

    Go here and choose your model to find out: https://www.blackberry.com/Downloads/entry.do?cod

  • Saad Shakhshir October 24, 2007, 4:03 pm

    Also, no comment on the $15 billion valuation? I expected a long, opinion-filled post from you Alec :)

  • Alec October 24, 2007, 4:14 pm

    hey Saad — only on Berry's running OS 4.2 or later. Rogers 8700's are on 4.1 and earlier… I have that on good authority.

    As for $15 billion… hey, my opinion is that if you can get it, you should take it ;)

  • Robert J. October 25, 2007, 8:41 am

    4.2 is available on RIM's site for Roger's users though for some reason, you can't get it from Rogers directly. Runs nicely on my 8700.

    Also…the error message may have been deceiving on a PDA, but Bell and Telus are hardcore about locking down their PCS phones to third-party apps. Very annoying.

    That said, Rogers doesn't seem to support MSN on the Blackberry for some reason… (correct me if I'm wrong…)

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