Blackberry’s new smartphone – look familiar?

It’s not hard to see where the makers of the BlackBerry, Research in Motion, drew inspiration for its brand new, touch-screen smartphone.

iPhone
BlackBerry Storm

It’s not hard to see where the makers of the BlackBerry, Research in Motion, drew inspiration for its brand new, touch-screen smartphone.

RIM’s new iPhone-killer takes plenty of visual cues from Apple’s hot new gadget, but there are some crucial differences that RIM hopes will help put the Storm (on the left) on top of tech lovers’ shopping lists.

One difference is a “clickable” screen, although its touch screen goes one step further than the iPhone. The screen acts like a clickable button, depressing slightly (like a key on a keyboard) when pressed.

RIM president Mike Lazaridis says the screen makes for a “truly tactile touch interface” and will help solve “the longstanding problem associated with typing on traditional touch-screens”.

Tech writer Ryan Kim from the San Francisco Chronicle’s tech blog says the clickable screen is one area where the Storm outdoes the iPhone.

“It makes your movements a little bit more precise and gives you the reassurance that you’re setting in motion only the things you want,” Kim says.

“Now the iPhone has a lot of precision in this way, but it doesn’t provide that tactile feedback and it’s also prone to some errant taps when you’re wheeling around through a menu or panning across a web page.”

The next challenge for RIM is whether it can get the Storm out before Christmas? RIM’s market capitalisation has lost two-thirds of its value in the last four months and the company desperately needs to get the launch right if it is to claw some of the value back.

Jim Suva, a technology analyst with Citigroup in the US, wrote in a research report that the Storm represents a big bet for RIM.

“We think RIM is swinging for the fences with their consumer ambitions. We see the Flip and Storm as squarely aimed at mass consumer market, while the Bold is targeting both business and consumers,” Suva says.

“While the opportunity is exponentially larger than RIM’s traditional enterprise focus, so are the risks.”

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