BlackBerry Storm Mobile Smart Phone Thunders into Market on Verizon Wireless

RIM's anti-iPhone campaign begins with the introduction of the BlackBerry Storm mobile smart phone, directly aimed at the consumer market and intended to be a serious challenger to the iPhone. Offered exclusively by Verizon Wireless, the Storm features a tactile touch-screen that RIM hopes will trump both the iPhone and T-Mobile's G1 phone, the first ever developed powered by Google's Android software, as the hottest electronic device of the holiday season.

Let the holiday season smart phone wars begin. Research In Motion introduced Oct. 8 its BlackBerry Storm-with its new tactile touch-screen-that will be exclusively available on Verizon Wireless in the United States in a matter of weeks. Both RIM and Verizon Wireless are expecting the Storm to seriously challenge Apple's 3G iPhone as the hottest electronic device under this year's Christmas tree.

With a look similar to Apple's iPhone, the Storm comes with a 3.2-inch 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. The device is expected to sell for approximately the same price as an iPhone.

The Storm was introduced in London, where Vodafone, a joint venture partner in Verizon Wireless, said it will exclusively offer the Storm in Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand later this fall.

View the first images of the BlackBerry Storm here.

"The BlackBerry Storm is a revolutionary touch-screen smart phone that meets both the communications and multimedia needs of customers and solves the longstanding problem associated with typing on traditional touch-screens," Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM, said in a statement.

RIM's jab at the iPhone's touch-screen is likely the first shot in the inevitable Storm-versus-the-iPhone debate as RIM fully joins the race to win consumer sales after dominating the enterprise market. John Lannan, Verizon's vice president and chief marketing officer, touted the device as one of the "coolest smart phones available on the market today."

Joining the fray for the consumer smart phone with Apple and RIM will also be T-Mobile's G1 device, the first smart phone powered by Google's Android software, which is set for an Oct. 22 launch date. Presale demand for the Google phone prompted T-Mobile to triple its order to HTC, which is manufacturing the G1.

RIM said the "clickable" touch-screen responds much like a physical keyboard and also supports single touch and multitouch. The keyboard and screen slightly depress when touched, and the user feels the screen being pressed and released with a gentle "click," similar to the feeling of a key on a physical keyboard or a button on a mouse. The keyboard layout is available in portrait and a full QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode.

The device also features a built-in accelerometer, which allows the touch-screen to automatically switch between landscape mode and portrait mode as the user rotates the handset.

eWEEK Labs' Jason Brooks blogs about the good and bad of the BlackBerry Storm. Read his thoughts here.