BlackBerry Storm Gets Release Date, Price

Verizon is taking the iPhone 3G head on by offering the first touch-screen BlackBerry while it tries to keep subscribers from defecting to AT&T's network.

Marin Perez, Contributor

November 13, 2008

2 Min Read

(click image for larger view)BlackBerry Storm

Verizon Wireless will aggressively take on the iPhone 3G this holiday seasons, as customers will be able to get their hands and fingers on the touch-screen BlackBerry Storm on Nov. 21 for $199 with a two-year contract.

The Storm has a large 3.25-inch touch screen, which has a 360-by-480-pixel resolution. Because messaging and typing are critical to BlackBerry users, RIM took a different approach to the Storm's virtual keyboard. The touch-screen smartphone uses a system called SurePress, which essentially turns the entire screen into a button. Holding the smartphone in portrait mode brings up a virtual SureType keyboard, similar to the one found on the BlackBerry Pearl. In landscape mode, there's a full QWERTY keyboard.

It may take time for customers to get used to the input method, as one has to press harder than on other virtual keyboards. But RIM said it's confident BlackBerry fans will be able to make a smooth and quick transition.

Despite the difference in keyboards, the Storm is still a BlackBerry, which means it will have strong support for multiple personal and e-mail accounts. It also has security features that may make it more enterprise-friendly than Apple's handset.

The Storm will be able to use Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network for 3G connectivity, although some may not like that it lacks Wi-Fi. The mobile broadband connection can be used to check e-mail, browse the Internet, read RSS feeds, as well as stream audio and video. Preloaded software will enable customers to read and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files directly on the handset.

It's unclear how heavily Verizon is subsidizing the Storm, but the pricing is a clear sign that it's positioning the smartphone as a strong alternative to the iPhone 3G, which can be had at an entry-level price of $199. The competitive pricing of the Storm may also help Verizon hold onto subscribers who have been defecting to AT&T to get Apple's handset.

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