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GPS-enabled BlackBerry Curve 8310 in Brazil

703-logo-vivo.jpgWell, I am Brazilian and the comment section has shown us we have at least two other readers from Brazil. So why not give this heads up as well. It seems that Vivo (pronounced Vee-voh) now is going to offer the Curve 8310, the one that is usually seen in the “titanium” or “ruby” colors. Personally, I prefer the “golden” 8320, but more choice is always welcome. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a ruby Berry! :-)

This particular choice is even more welcome because Brazilians love GPS and the Blackberry is not terribly popular in Brazil. I don’t know personally any other Blackberry owner, and even in the Brazilian phone and gadget forums, I’ve run into less than a dozen of these types. Maybe the whole bunch is too busy thumb-typing to participate in forums. Actually, Blackberry pricing (phone and data plan) is steep for Brazilian standards. The phone can be had for a very good discount if you buy a “hefty” one-year voice plan with it. By “hefty” I mean “plenty of minutes”, and what we call “plenty of minutes” in Brazil would make an American chuckle. But I digress. It’s still expensive anyway and the Blackberry data plan is often regarded as too restricted – Vivo actively refuses to provide an APN. Search Google and you’re bound to find countless Vivo APNs. None of them really works and Vivo representatives have told me it is on purpose. It is supposed to be restricted. And there is very little advertising or awareness campaigns. Most Brazilian consumers don’t even know what a Blackberry is or how it is different from any other phone. They’re just left wondering why it is so much more expensive than most phones.

Little advertising doesn’t seem to stop the Treos. These are quite popular among business types and the consumer market in general. Palm still is a strong name here. Nokia and Sony-Ericsson are also very strong, especially the Nokia N95 phone, but these brands get quite some publicity around here. And although the N95 costs a lot, people recognize its value immediately with all that strong media stuff. Looking down on Motorola has become de rigueur among connoisseurs, but it remains a strong selling brand among “ordinary” consumers, probably because Motorola are always advertising so much. Summing up, I think that RIM should try and do something to have a stronger presence in Brazil. I talk to phone and gadget freaks all the time in Brazilian forums and I can assure you that most people simply don’t know or understand the Blackberry and what benefits it has to offer.

Vivo is in fact the carrier I’ve been using since I bought my Curve. It’s the only one to offer both GSM and CDMA in Brazil, but I don’t think they carry any CDMA Blackberry. They carry the MotoQ and the Treo 750p for that. Vivo still is one of the most feared and loathed carriers in this country. They have built a very strong and enduring reputation for overbilling and providing low quality support and service. All Brazilian carriers have some of that same reputation, but Vivo managed to make the top of the list of negative mindshare. This got a lot worse when they implemented their most unpopular measure ever: disabling Bluetooth in most of their phones, allegedly to prevent copyright violation issues. The public’s perception was that they were trying to force people to buy ringtones instead of uploading them for free. They gave up on that stupid idea and Bluetooth has been enabled in all their phones for a long time now, but people still make nasty jokes about that episode, especially because every month we get a new rumor here that Vivo is going to be the one Brazilian carrier to sell the iPhone, which also has issues with Bluetooth.

I am a relatively new user and have almost no problems at all with Vivo. Several recent audit reports indicate that they have been improving their service overall. Overcoming the awful reputation they’ve built for themselves is going to take a while.

If they really get to sell the iPhone in Brazil, then the Blackberry will be neglected even more. :-(

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Heeyy, you are Brazilian?! I didn’t know that! I’m Brazilian too and read this blog everyday!! It’s great!
    I have a Blackberry 8310 by Claro and use the Nav4All GPS! It’s very very good for the price (Free!).
    I simply HATE Vivo, really really hate them. They did nasty things with their clients in the past. Vivo lost many clients to TIM and Claro (at least here in Sao Paulo).
    Also, I would like to reinforce the fact that RIM should stand up for its presence in Brazil, where is the marketing??
    I love my BB, but I also have an iPhone (TIM). I don’t think iPhone threatens Blackberry YET, but in a near future, who knows? Specially if iPhone really supports Exchange accounts and third-party software.

    That’s it… Keep up the good work!

  2. I am not Brazilian but my wife is and I’ve been about a dozen times. Can someone explain why none of the carriers are national, in that if I leave the state where I live my phone doesn’t work in another state? TIM seems to work in more than one state, but on a pre-paid plan (remember I visit Brazil) people can no longer call me if I am not in my “home” state. How the heck so business people travel in Brazil? You’d need to carry a pocket full of SIM cards to make sure your phone works in every state.

    Also I agree that RIM has not enough presence there. I brought my 8320 (T-Mo) to Brazil and wanted to get a SIM card from TIM and they had no clue. I knew they sold the 8310 which is so similar, but still they had no clue what I was talking about. I did get it to work in the end, but without any help.

  3. @Paula: so we have at least THREE other readers from Brazil, and counting! :-) Nice to meet you.
    @Nikolaus: I’ll get back to you later.

  4. Nikolaus: all telephony services in Brazil used to be run by state administrations. Each state had its own telephony department. These were sold to companies in a big privatization process. Then these companies merged, bought and sold like rabbits and only historians now can trace back the origins of each current carrier. The government decided there wouldn’t be room for everybody in the spectrum, so the country was divided in a few regions and only a few carriers are allowed to operate in each region. Concessions are auctioned from time to time and carriers then have the opportunity to extend their coverage. I thik that also has the added benefit that the government rakes in a few billion dollars from the carriers with each auction.
    You should be able to place and receive calls anywhere in the country. Incidentally, TIM is now the only carrier that covers the entire country after the latest auctions. Vivo also operates in many states. But you’re subject to roaming fees. Whenever you leave your base city (indicated by your SIM number’s area code), you’re roaming. There is an extra fee for using the phone in other cities and another fee for using it in other states. Across states, you’re likely to end up using another carrier’s infrastructure, hence the premium.
    The reason why your phone doesn’t work in other states has to be something else. Maybe just quality (TIM is known for dropping signal or calls easily) or maybe you’re required to call them up and expressly authorize certain things like roaming. Or maybe your SIM didn’t have enough credits for receiving calls on roaming. Roaming fees also apply to calls you receive, and they are not cheap.
    I am sorry if I am not clear enough. Cell phone plans are incredibly baroque, I would be lying if I told you that I really understand all the details or even all the main aspects of the entire system. The next time that happens to you, maybe your wife (in case you don’t speak Portuguese) should contact the carrier and try to find out what is going on. Unfortunately, TIM has one of the worst reputations for support/assistance. It could be hours until you finally get to talk to someone, and getting wrong or discrepant information from their own staff is not at all unusual. Brazilians often insist on believing that this kind of shoddy service only happens in Brazil, but as I participate in the forums, now I realize it’s just the same in the US and Canada. It really sucks, doesn’t it? :-(

  5. Hello,

    I brought an unlocked, GPS-enabled Blackberry 8310 to Brazil, and for phone calls it’s working fine. I decided to go with Vivo since they have the unlimited data plan.

    2 questions: How the heck do I get the email set up? I have tried both options for existing accounts as well as for new accounts, and I go through the menus, only to have the website inform me that an account already exists, and then when I get to the registration part, I am told that my login information is incorrect. ??? Any ideas?

    Secondly, I decided to pay the 17 reais for the monthly GPS service (maybe I should have gone with Claro), and I downloaded the software successfully, but I don’t see any features on the map. Does this take a long time to load, or is there something else that Vivo is doing to me to punish me for bringing my own BB to Brazil?

    Please help!

    Muito obrigado!

  6. I’ve sent you an e-mail in private, Robert. Let’s see if I can help.

  7. I now have my Blackberry up and running! Now we all know for sure that an unlocked BB from outside the country will work as it should in Brazil. Of course, I had a little help… I was told that the BB had a previous account stuck into it, so it required customer service to configure the email correctly.

    Thanks again!!!

  8. ola pessoal eu quero ativar o gps do meu blackberry da claro como devo proceder

    • Desculpem-me por não falar bem Português, sou um estrangeiro.

      Estou usando Vivo. Eu não preciso usar o programa especial da Vivo. Tudo que fiz foi fazer o download do Google Maps, e ele trabalhou para mim sem nenhum problema. Creio que eu fui ao site a partir do telefone, e ele funcionou.

      Não sei se existe um site para isso em Português.

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