RIM's New Touchscreen BlackBerry Storm: Good Chance It's A Hit

We haven’t had a chance to play with RIM’s new touchscreen BlackBerry Storm yet, but based on early first-hand reviews, it is safe to say it will at least accomplish two goals: Get RIM into the touchscreen market, and get Verizon Wireless — its exclusive U.S. carrier — a decent smartphone competitor to the Apple-AT&T iPhone. And it could actually sell well.

The big gamble: RIM’s touchscreen doesn’t work like the one you’re used to using on an iPhone, Palm (PALM) Treo, etc. If you want to select a button, or type on the virtual keyboard, you have to push it — pretty hard — not just touch it. Because this is new, it might scare people off. But according to two gadget dudes who’ve actually used it, it actually works.

Engadget’s Paul Miller:

…The true test of any touch-based phone is typing, and we won’t hold any punches here: we’re in love. In fact, we like it enough to pit it against regular button-based keyboards, since it easily leaves traditional touchscreen typing (even that hokey haptics stuff, Nokia, LG) in the dust.

Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan:

Some people will hate ClickThrough—it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s genuinely innovative and really damn good.

So who’s going to buy the Storm?

  • Any of Verizon Wireless’ 69 million subscribers who want a touchscreen smartphone and want to stick with Verizon (VZ), which doesn’t offer the iPhone.
  • Anyone who wants a touchscreen smartphone and whose company uses BlackBerry for their mobile email.
  • Anyone who wants a touchscreen smartphone and cares more about email than Web browsing, games, multimedia, etc.
  • Anyone who hates Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T), Sprint (S), and/or T-Mobile.

There’s still some variables to get ironed out, like pricing. And the phone has some glaring shortcomings, like no wi-fi, no support for iTunes-DRM-encoded music and movies, and a tiny third-party app platform.

But last we checked, the iPhone, for all its merits, was still just 24% of the U.S. consumer smartphone market — meaning three of four buyers were putting their money elsewhere. Bottom line: There’s plenty of room for competition, and with Verizon’s marketing dollars behind it, we think RIM’s new phone will do well.

See Also:
This Winter’s Smartphone Wars Are Set: Who’s Going To Win?
RIM: Here’s Our iPhone Clone, Finally
Apple’s iPhone Top-Selling U.S. Consumer Smartphone This Summer, Verizon The Big Loser

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