Early in the week the Verizon website displayed a teaser page that showed an image of the BlackBerry Storm (known as the Thunder in the UK). The page doesn’t say much, okay, so it says pretty much nothing of importance, but invites customers to join a mailing list and promises they’ll be the first to know about product specs and pricing when the time comes.
The Storm is coming, and soon. Not too long ago RIM announced it’s first flip BlackBerry. The launch of two "first-for-us" products from a company usually means it’s trying to pull off a dramatic image overhaul. Clamshell phones in general give the impression of being less business, more social. RIM’s clamshell handset doesn’t sacrifice the basic idea of the BlackBerry, but it’s a pretty big step for the company to take. Other than the fact that RIM has chosen Verizon to market what the company hopes will be a serious competitor for the iPhone, there isn’t much official info available for the Storm. But like with the clamshell Pearl, it seems “serious” is no longer the operative word when it comes to the BlackBerry.
The launch of the Storm is another step away from a smart, sensible, business-like phone. MobileComputerMag got its hands on some of the talking points and tips sent out to retailers in preparation for the launch. Not only does the document emphasize the Storm is for work and play, but it details some of the features of the phone that you’re not going to get from the Verizon site unless you want to submit your email address and sit tight.
The Storm is a touch screen with a twist. A lot of people have said that one thing about the iPhone that took getting used to was the typing with the touch screen and BlackBerry users said they wouldn’t want to ditch the real keypad in favor of something touch sensitive. The Storm incorporates a “click” touch screen for “smooth, precise text input that feels like a real keyboard.” It also boasts the highest screen resolution on a BlackBerry to date and a 3.2 megapixel camera.
So, where does this leave Apple and RIM? It’s hard to say. When Apple launched the iPhone 3G, there was a significant amount of hype geared toward business users compared to the launch of the original version of the phone. The last two handsets RIM has launched have been marketed as more social versions of a business-orientated device.
To us it seems like both teams are trying to play both sides of the court. We’d be inclined to say some people like BlackBerrys and some people like iPhones and there’s nothing wrong with that.