BlackBerry Storm Fails to Take Capitol Hill

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-03-09 Print this article Print

The BlackBerry Storm smartphone and its touch-screen sounded cool and many Capitol Hill staffers rushed to embrace the mobile device. Now, though, they want their BlackBerry Curves and keyboards back. If legislative staff members are any indication, Research In Motion's hopes that the BlackBerry Storm will be an iPhone killer may be a touch off.

The reviews are in for the BlackBerry Storm on Capitol Hill, and it turns out change is not what lawmakers' staffs want when it comes to smartphones. As it turns out, Hill staffers prefer keyboards to touch-screens.

After Research In Motion introduced the BlackBerry Storm as a potentially serious iPhone challenger, a number of staffers took the bait, ditched their BlackBerry Curves and older RIM models, and ordered the Storm. According to the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, many of those staffers now want out of the deal.

"It's not easy to send e-mails on that thing," Rodell Mollineau, staff director for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told Roll Call March 6. "It is not a good touch-screen and it's not like the iPhone, where there are so many other great features to it."

With a look similar to Apple's iPhone, the Storm comes with a 3.2-inch touch-screen, preloaded with Facebook, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The device features built-in GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera, video recording capability, a media player and a removable battery. Additional applications will be available through a BlackBerry app store.

Despite all the features, it is the Storm's touch-screen that's turning off Hill staff members. As they explain it, e-mail is their primary mission when using a smartphone.

"Look, BlackBerrys have become a critical form of communication, and when you['re] trying to pound out e-mail after e-mail in very rapid fashion, it is difficult when you have a device that takes a lot longer to type [with]," Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Roll Call.

How long did Walsh work with his new BlackBerry Storm?

"I lasted as long as it took us to order one of the older ones-about a week and a half," Walsh said.


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