BlackBerry Tour mired by trackball problems, Verizon losing patience?

You might remember our complaint that the Tour's trackball seemed a bit too recessed -- and while we're not ready to connect the dots just yet, this does seem rather convenient. Some research investment dude is reporting that the phone requires frequent trackball cleanings -- which users aren't taking to heart, assuming they know it needs to be done in the first place -- and a lack of maintenance quickly leads to stuck trackballs. From there, it doesn't take a wild imagination to believe that the phone is quickly sent back to the Sprint or Verizon shop from whence it came, and therein lies the problem: rumor has it that Sprint's seeing fully 50 percent of Tours brought back, and they're estimating that quality control measures totaling a 2 to 3 percent boost in production costs would bring that stat way down. A trackball that's too recessed seems like more of a design issue than a "quality control" one to us, but who knows -- maybe they can get it fixed without rearchitecting the whole phone. For what it's worth, we've gotten an official statement from Sprint:

"We experienced a small percentage of early production BlackBerry Tour smartphones with trackball issues. As soon as the issue was identified, we worked closely with our partners at RIM to resolve the problem quickly. We recommend any customer experiencing issues with the trackball on their BlackBerry Tour smartphone visit a Sprint Service & Repair Center."

The "early production" part of that leads us to believe this might already be fixed on the assembly line, in which case new buyers shouldn't feel bad about marching into the store -- Verizon's allegedly threatening to give more love for the Sholes if the problem doesn't go away, but considering that BlackBerrys and Android devices don't really play in the same space yet, that's a pretty meaningless threat as far as your average business user's concerned.

[Via Electronista]