RIM CEO Confirms Sequel To Storm

The BlackBerry maker said touch-based devices could play a key role in its push for the large and untapped mainstream market.
Research In Motion will continue to provide touch-screen BlackBerrys, and the company already is working on a sequel to the BlackBerry Storm, according to co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

During a presentation with investors, Balsillie said the Storm has had strong sales, and that a "next-generation" device already was being worked on. RIM's executive didn't elaborate on how the "Storm 2" would improve on the first device, but reports suggest it will add Wi-Fi and have a new input method.

The touch-screen Storm was released last year on Verizon Wireless and was seen as RIM's response to Apple's popular iPhone 3G. RIM wanted the Storm to have the same messaging strength its BlackBerrys are known for, and it implemented a screen-suspension system known as SurePress. This means users have to physically push the screen down to select an icon or input text.

The Storm was launched with multiple software bugs, though, which led to many mixed reviews. The handset still managed to be popular with Verizon customers, as it sold over a million units in about three months.

While the enterprise market remains a strong revenue sector for RIM, Balsillie said the consumer market is "very large and untapped." The company increasingly has focused on the mainstream market with a large television ad campaign, consumer-friendly devices like the Storm, and the Pearl Flip, as well as a mobile application store.

But that doesn't mean RIM will ignore its enterprise roots, as it recently announced a slate of corporate-oriented products at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium. The company announced enterprise collaborations with Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, new tools for BlackBerry application developers, and the launching of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.

Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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