The launch of smartphones seems to bring both joy and fear for many these days. Joy, of course, that you can wrap your hands around the shiny plastic of a new toy. Fear of the looming data costs and the mountainous phone bills. To the surprise of none, then, Vodafone produced some of both when it announced its pricing for the BlackBerry Storm on Tuesday.
The real fear here lies in the fine print — the "unlimited" e-mail and Internet usage is not only restricted to BlackBerry’s proprietary Web browser, but any file downloaded above 3MB is charged for... at 50c per MB. Thankfully, customers won’t be caught out — BlackBerry’s browser simply won’t download files above 3MB — but the idea of using a third-party browser, and then being shafted at 50c per MB (or 10c per MB under an extra Vodafone Pack) is simply a nightmare.
Vodafone Australia isn’t solely to blame. The Storm is simply victim to any number of exclusivity contracts that leave the phone in the hands of meddling telcos. It’s no surprise, then, that the Storm is devoid of Wi-Fi in an obvious effort to channel more data, and consequently money, to the carriers. A phone manufacturer bowing to corporate pressure? Now that's new.
Then there's the idea of using a third-party browser: if you're part of any sizable corporation, chances are you won't be using one. Thanks to RIM's willing submission to corporate power everywhere, IT staff have the ability to lock you out of any application deemed unrelated to work. If you're like a friend of mine who opted for the BlackBerry Bold over the iPhone — only to find out his company's IT staff had blacklisted almost every program except e-mail — the Storm isn't going to be a pleasant experience.