Verizon's Bright Idea: Shaft Users, Make Money - InformationWeek

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12/21/2009
10:23 PM
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Verizon's Bright Idea: Shaft Users, Make Money

Can Verizon infuriate its Blackberry users by shoving a "preferred" search provider down their throats? Yeah, there's an app for that.

Can Verizon infuriate its Blackberry users by shoving a "preferred" search provider down their throats? Yeah, there's an app for that.Last January, Verizon inked a deal with Microsoft to use the company's Bing search engine. It's one thing for a wireless provider to set a default search option on its users' devices. It is quite another to leave users with no options at all: Gone are the Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia options that were available just days before--though Verizon BlackBerry users can still manually access any search engine they please by typing the corresponding URL into the BlackBerry Browser.

. . . Typically, BlackBerry users can select their own search engines of choice from the BlackBerry Go to pages and search the Web from there. But as of last week, Verizon decided to eliminate all the search options and now a number of its wireless customers are, in effect, being force-fed Microsoft's Bing.

Verizon accomplished this nasty piece of work by pushing out an "update" to its users' Blackberry devices. Those who want to use Google's search engine must now either visit the Google Web site or download the company's quicksearch application.

Verizon has pulled some slimy tricks in the past to suck money out of its subscribers' pockets. After all, this is the same company that initially refused to enable Wi-Fi support on its Blackberry devices. Apparently, the company hasn't learned its lesson.

In the grand scheme of things, crippling a user's choice of search engines may not sound like a big deal. But it speaks volumes about Verizon's contempt for its customers -- and it demonstrates why the current U.S. system that ties handsets so tightly to individual network providers is such a raw deal.

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