Remember how the U.S. government BlackBerry users were the ones that were going to save RIM from shutting down if it didn’t settle with patent troll NTP?
Just don’t ask them to save RIM’s (RIMM) touchscreen iPhone lookalike, the BlackBerry Storm.
Politico plugged its D.C. tech contacts — who spend every waking moment emailing on their BlackBerries — for their reviews. Some of the highlights:
- “It’s not easy to send e-mails on that thing. It is not a good touch screen, and it’s not like the iPhone, where there are so many other great features to it,” said Rodell Mollineau, communications staff director for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
- Only one of his staffers got the Storm. “Three days later,” Mollineau said, “I literally walk in and he’s cursing with four-letter words, and he was slamming it down, saying, ‘I can’t get e-mail to work all right.’ It just is not for people here who mainly use their BlackBerrys for that.”
- Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the House chief administrative officer, said many staffers have returned the Storm. “The Storm device is not ideal for certain users and has presented some valid functional challenges.”
- The press secretary for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he’s “desperately trying” to get a BlackBerry Curve. If that doesn’t work, he’ll wait for the BlackBerry Bold, just so he can “avoid having to use the Storm.” (Good news: A new Curve-like ‘Niagara’ might be coming to Verizon in a matter of months.)
Of course, RIM isn’t exactly positioning the Storm as an email workhorse, but as a consumer-focused competitor to the iPhone. Which explains why 75% of early Storm sales were going to new BlackBerry customers, versus existing customers upgrading to a new BlackBerry.
But everyone knows that RIM’s strength is email. And if the Storm’s email sucks — we couldn’t even get it set up right in our test, the user interface/screen was so frustrating — then it’s not helping RIM.