Apple's special treatment I can understand, with Job's reality distortion field and behind-the-scenes arm twisting backed up by the Apple juggernaut. But what about all those little crappy little landfill Android makers back then? Somehow, they were getting smartphones on the market with functional GPS and functional E-mail, at no additional cost.
You sound like an engineering-type, and it sounds like the engineering side of things knew what were the right decisions that needed to be made. But I suspect the Blackberry upper management was busy "synergizing" with the telecomm upper management, and mutually cooperating to figure out how to extract extra value (value from their perspective, not from the customer's view) with each subscription.
I'm also guessing Blackberry management was also busy figuring out how to extract the maximum value from the telecomm companies at the same time, with the various licenses and special servers required to run Blackberries -- and then the carriers passed the cost on down, along with a nice mark-up. Meanwhile, Google was probably giving away all the needed support for "free", with everything being handled by their cloud.
Either way, when I first got my smartphone, the extra monthly cost of owning a Blackberry was simply too much. Early versions of Android were pretty crappy in various ways, but they were just so much cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate.