Rumours are swirling that Verizon and Research in Motion could officially release the sequel to the BlackBerry Storm this week with its trademark "clickable" touchscreen still intact.
According to the Wall Street Journal, RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said this week that the SureTouch technology that the company used to develop the first Storm's clickable screen is "here to stay." Although Lazaridis did not say that SureTouch would be used on the new Storm model, his comments ruled out the possibility that the click screen would be phased out all together from RIM devices.
There had been rumors that RIM was planning to ditch the clickable screen in favor of a more traditional touchscreen such as the one used by the Apple iPhone. The Storm's touch interface has been one of the chief complaints that critics have had about the device, as they have said it lags far too much and that it reacts slowly when touched.
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was quoted in the New York Times this week as saying that he hoped the new device would essentially hit the reset button on the Storm brand, which has been battered by mediocre reviews and customer complaints about bugs within its operating system and its Web browser. Specifically, the Times quoted McAdam saying that the next generation of the Storm device would give customers "what they hoped the original Storm would be."
RIM has been focusing recently on upgrading its users' Web browsing experience, as the company this summer acquired Torch Mobile, a company that develops applications using the WebKit open source browser engine. Torch Mobile specializes in developing mobile Web browsers, RSS readers and widget platforms. The company's flagship product is its Iris Browser that is specifically designed for mobile phones, set-top boxes and ultra-mobile PCs. Iris is available for certain Windows mobile operating systems and features touchscreen control and advanced HTML and CSS support.
RIM originally created the Storm to be a consumer-friendly touchscreen smartphone that would be a legitimate competitor with Apple's popular iPhone device. Although the Storm has sold an estimated 1 million units, those sales are a mere fraction of the tens of millions of iPhones that have been sold around the world. While RIM has traditionally thrived in selling secure enterprise devices, the company started to push into the consumer market last year after Apple introduced some basic enterprise features such as access to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync and Cisco IPsec VPN to the iPhone.