RIM launches Blackberry Storm locally

Published in the Business Guardian, May 07, 2009.

The Blackberry Storm. Photo courtesy Research in Motion.

Research in Motion (RIM) launched their newest communications device in Trinidad and Tobago last Wednesday at the Hyatt Hotel.
The Storm is a clear response to the popularity of Apple’s iPhone. Gone are the myriad of keys that have become the hallmark of a Blackberry communications device in favour of a touch sensitive screen with virtual keys that spans the full face of the device.
The graphics of the device reflect RIM’s focus on business customers, black iconography is outlined in glowing white, making the icons and keypad graphics look modern without becoming inappropriate for the corporate suite.

For all the style, the device is easy to understand and use. You touch and drag on the screen to navigate, but clicking requires a firmer touch than iPhone users will be accustomed to.
This touch and press technology, which RIM has branded SurePress, gives the user a sense that the entire screen of the Blackberry is moving slightly. It’s disconcerting at first, but proves to be a viable trade-off when it becomes clear that the phone won’t activate any functions all by itself.

The device is 4.4 x 2.4 z .55 inches in size, roughly the same size and shape as an iPhone, but it’s substantially thicker. The large colourful screen adapts quickly to user interaction, switching from icons to keypad to full screen images without any flickering or hesitation. Video files play back effortlessly with no lag.
The phone is something of a gamble for RIM, since its strength has long been in the corporate business space where flashy graphics, movie playback and a software keyboard, to say nothing of a high resolution digital camera, have not been large on the wishlists of companies leveraging the Blackberry network for their business needs.

Indeed, some of these features might well disqualify the Storm from becoming the Blackberry of choice for some firms choosing telecommunications devices for their employees.
For that reason, it’s unsurprising that the more traditional Bold, which sports some of the graphics style of the Storm, is also being marketed as a top of the line choice for Blackberry users.
While the overall styling of the phone remains business appropriate, the Storm seems to be extending a feeler into the consumer and phone fetishist space
Learning from the success of the iPhone’s software initiative, RIM has introduced a Blackberry software store that’s currently stocked with 1,000 applications that extend the capabilities of the core device.

Along with a web browser, mail services and built-in playback of most common media formats, the Storm ships with DataViz’ Documents to Go suite, which replicates the Microsoft Office suite, with the exception of Access, in format and functionality on mobile devices.
According to Peter Gould, Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, "It's a balance, shipping the Blackberry with enough software to make it attractive and interesting and leaving enough out to ensure that our partners can customise it to their needs."
Blackberry services are offered by both Digicel and bMobile in Trinidad and Tobago but neither company was ready to announce their pricing for the Blackberry Storm on their networks.

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