New BlackBerry whips up an iPhone-like storm

Hundreds of eager US customers lined up last weekend to purchase Research in Motion’s answer to the iPhone – the BlackBerry Storm.

BlackBerry Storm

Hundreds of eager US customers lined up last weekend to purchase Research in Motion’s answer to the iPhone – the BlackBerry Storm.

The first BlackBerry device to boast a touch screen, it has been labelled as a serious competitor to Apple’s iPhone. But police were called to the Verizon Wireless store in Manhattan last week when the shop ran out of stock – leaving over 100 people empty-handed.

Customers reported being turned away even when they had lined up since 8am, while thousands who pre-ordered the phone say there wasn’t enough stock. Verizon says they will receive their phones within five to seven days – a sign the group is struggling to keep up with demand.

The Storm device costs the same as the iPhone – $US200 – but only on a two-year contract. Both devices boast media players, touch screens, internet access and built-in cameras.

The phone was released yesterday in Australia on the Vodafone network, retailing for $899. There are five data pricing plans ranging from $69 to $149 a month over two years.

But reception to the device has been mixed.

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has labelled the device the “BlackBerry Dud”.

“Despite having had more than a year to study the iPhone, BlackBerry maker RIM has failed to exploit the virtues of an on-screen keyboard,” he writes.

“The phone takes far too long to figure out that you’re swiping and not just tapping. It inevitably highlights some random list item when you begin to swipe and then there’s a disorientating delay before the scrolling begins.”

Vincent Nguyen from says the device was a disappointment.

“I had high hopes for the Storm, and in a way I still do since firmware updates could make a world of difference, but in its present state it sadly falls short.”

But tech site Gizmodo has come out in support of the new phone.

“Some people will hate that it’s not the iPhone (or the G1, since it’s another tightly integrated hardware/software package). But for BlackBerry users looking for a touch screen phone, or Verizon customers who don’t want to do without the carrier’s superior coverage area, this is the best there is.”



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