Gerard Hallaren, also with TownHall Investment Research, agrees with Eller that the issue is trackball-centric and caused by the phone's design. He implies that the issue can be avoided, provided "customers to clean the trackball frequently, and preferably with compressed air. Not surprisingly, most customers prefer not to." (An air compressor is a geek's best friend. -Ed) Hallaren also believes the problem could be fixed by improving quality control, a change that would raise the phone's cost of production by 2-3 percent. With up to 50 percent of customers returning the phone and claiming it's broken, a small bump in production costs could save a metric ton of money in RMA expenses.
Verizon has had a strong working relationship with BlackBerry, but may now be shopping for other suppliers. Eller reports that "Verizon is angry about this recurring trackball problem and is telling its retailers to expect strong support for the new Motorola phone." Reports of the problem started surfacing in early August; Verizon has promised a firmware update to resolve the issue.
Whether or not a firmware update can actually resolve the problem is an open question. On the one hand, there's reason to think the problem could be mechanical; Eller claims that discussion of the issue began August 10. the Tour actually launched on June 10, so that's a sixty day window until forum reports began to pile up. Anyone who ever worked with a mouse in the bad ol' trackball days should remember how quickly the tracking wheels could get dirty—it wasn't uncommon to have to clean the gunk out once a month. We already know that the trackball is recessed farther into the phone than might be wise; it's entirely possible that the interior rollers underneath the ball are clogging up quite quickly.
The culprit, front and center
At this point, a software issue seems more likely than a problem with the device's hardware design. Unless you work in a saw mill, there's no good explanation as to why a trackpad would fail within 2-3 days. If you're beyond the 30-day return limit and stuck with a useless phone, there are instructions available for dissassembling the device and attempting to fix it yourself.