updated 08:15 am EST, Fri November 21, 2008
BBerry Storm Ships
Verizon today marked the official launch of the BlackBerry Storm on its network. The device matches the $199 contract price of the rivalling iPhone 3G at AT&T and is widely regarded as Verizon's best alternative to the Apple handset in features and focus. The Storm has a similarly-sized 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen meant for finger input but relies on a unique click action that requires a physical push downwards for some actions, simulating a physical button press.
The phone also shares a mixture of advantages and disadvantages over its chief competitor. Although the first-ever touchscreen BlackBerry operates on both CDMA and GSM networks with 3G on either, reports claim that Verizon may have consciously removed both Wi-Fi and North American HSPA bands to both push greater use of its paid network services as well as to discourage unlocking the phone for use with AT&T. Its core GPS is more advanced with traditional turn-by-turn navigation but lacks the feature-finding software of the iPhone's Google Maps, including the just-added Street View that also exists on the Android-powered T-Mobile G1.
Only a single model of the Storm is available with 1GB of built-in memory and microSDHC storage to add more. A new, more touch-specific media player app on the phone itself as well as Media Sync for Windows PCs help users synchronize the phone with iTunes for unprotected content. RIM's new phone also plays home to the App Center, a new carrier-customizable central portal for downloading and managing third-party software.
Verizon's holiday sales are expected to hinge on the Storm but may have been temporarily set back by a claimed shortage at the last minute, though Electronista hears from sources that initial supplies were anticipated as running below demand from the beginning.