So, Why Doesn’t the Storm Use Haptics?
For the other new Blackberry launching this season, the Bold, RIM claims twice the battery life of other 3G phones, and it has put a lot of research and development into making that happen, including tuning the 3G radio stack so it disconnects after sending data rather than waiting for an acknowledgment. Feature phones from LG that use haptic feedback don’t have significant battery life issues, but the Storm needs to power a faster processor and more memory to support the new browser, and Blackberry users tend to type significantly longer messages and send more emails than average phone users do. Even a small drain on the battery could be too much.
One reason that haptics would seem to be the obvious solution for tactile feedback on phones is the number of phones that already use it, Immersion’s Levin said. “What we’ve seen from Samsung and LG is that they’ve determined all touch screen phones need some level of haptic confirmation," Levin said. "It seems almost every new touch screen phone has VibeTonz in.” Between them, manufacturers have launched 93 different VibeTonz models worldwide since 2005.
April’s report in the New York Times about a touch screen Blackberry known internally as the "Apple Killer" didn’t mention feedback technology. But the Boy Genius Report blog gave details in July about a touch screen Blackberry that it called the Thunder, with “haptic feedback” as well as a screen that “clicks.
A reader using the name "bomba" who claimed to have seen the Thunder in action posted details on CrackBerry.com, saying “you actually push the screen in to make buttons do things.” While another reader asked if the phone used haptic feedback, bomba didn’t confirm this.
The CrackBerry blog followed up with a post talking about the screen pushing in "a little" and added that it gave “localized haptic” feedback: "You hear an audible clickety sound, and can feel a buzz in your finger where you actually pressed on the display," the post said.
Other CrackBerry posts repeated the haptic claims. By September, CrackBerry was showing a Verizon flyer for the Storm describing "a ’click’ touch screen for smooth precise text input that feels like a keyboard” with no mention of any vibrotactile feedback, but the idea that the Storm had vibrotactile haptics had stuck and many articles still repeat the rumor.