updated 06:20 pm EST, Wed December 30, 2009
Bing shortcut on BlackBerries can't be pulled
Verizon has stepped up its tie-in with Microsoft by installing a Bing icon on subscribers' BlackBerries without their consent. While just a shortcut to install an app, the carrier prevents customers from removing the link and so far has only provided help moving the icon as well as a guide to installing alternative apps from Google or bookmarking search pages.
The provider has tried to spin the forced promotion of Bing by claiming that it isn't hurting existing services despite denying the option of using Google, Yahoo or others in the BlackBerry web browser's search bar. Corporate Communications VP Jim Gerace tries to characterize the move in pro-net neutrality terms.
"Verizon isn't blocking or degrading anything; just providing a great option for customers," he argues.
The move to require Bing is likely prompted by previously undisclosed terms of Microsoft's search deal with Verizon and is made possible in part by the centralized nature of the BlackBerry, whose services beyond just e-mail can be partly controlled by server-side code. BlackBerry App World, for example, can have some apps automatically filtered out at the carrier's discretion, such as VoIP or video streaming services that might compete with its own.
Passive updates are not unheard of on rival smartphone platforms such as Android or iPhone, where new features embedded in code have been silently enabled, but changes to their own software are still determined chiefly by user-selected firmware upgrades. [via SAI]