Verizon is priming the pump with announcements about the upcoming BlackBerry Storm, their latest attempt to counter the iPhone craze. They have good reason to do so. Some recent research suggests that close to half of AT&T’s new iPhone subscribers in recent months came to them from Verizon Wireless. The Storm is RIM’s first touchscreen BlackBerry smartphone. No firm release date has been announced, but Verizon says the Storm will be out for the holiday season and will be “aggressively priced.” That means somewhere between $150 – $200. The other marquee touchscreen smartphones, including the G1, iPhone, and Instinct are in that range.
Some unique features of the Storm include a tactile touchscreen, compatibility with iTunes, and dual CDMA and GSM modes. The tactile touchscreen gives the user a subtle signal when touched. The dual mode functionality takes aim at probably the iPhone’s biggest weakness right now – being exclusively tethered to AT&T. Although, practically speaking, the Storm will be exclusive to Verizon Wireless for a while. And while the Storm is a smartphone that will appeal to BlackBerry’s entrenched enterprise user base, RIM and Verizon will aggressively target consumers in the hopes of slowing down the iPhone’s momentum with that larger market segment. First quarter 2009 will be an interesting one to watch because it will be the first full quarter for the smartphone competitive battle between Apple/AT&T, Google/T-Mobile, and RIM/Verizon.