BlackBerry Storm forecast to hit Vodafone stores

8 Oct 2008

The new BlackBerry Storm, which features the largest screen of any BlackBerry smart phone so far, will be introduced to Vodafone stores in the coming weeks, the company said this morning.

Until now, BlackBerrys have been the preserve of the business classes. But this move sees the introduction of a BlackBerry that can easily segue between the world of a hard-working businessperson or the new world of consumers who want their email and social networking on the move. At present, this is a market that only Apple with its iPhone has managed to tap.

This market for versatile, tech-savvy mobile consumers is beginning to heat up as Nokia debuts its 5800 ExpressMusic – or ‘Nokia Tube’ as it has been called – and as Google’s Android operating system has debuted in the US via T-Mobile on a device made by HTC.

The new BlackBerry will be the first clickable, touchscreen phone purposely built for Vodafone, and will feature easy access to social networking sites, turn-by-turn satellite navigation, as well as music and video players.

The new smart phone is the fruit of a long-term strategic alliance between Vodafone and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) and will be available exclusively on Vodafone’s 3G networks in Ireland, the UK, mainland Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand from next month.

The new BlackBerry Storm smart phone, comes with a browser which delivers a browsing experience with desktop-style depiction in either portrait or landscape view. The new user interface combines the familiar dedicated ‘menu’ and ‘escape’ keys common to BlackBerry smart phones, but adds support for multi-touches, taps and slides, allowing the user to easily highlight, scroll, pan and zoom, making navigation fast, easy and intuitive.

The 3.25-inch screen gives users a variety of different sense experiences. Despite its flat surface, users feel the sensation of actually pressing down on virtual keys, which also light up when touched. This makes it quick and easy to type texts and emails, as well as navigate through the phone’s functions. Customers will also have the choice of using a full QWERTY, SureType or multi-tap keyboard.

More space has been dedicated to the high-resolution colour screen, allowing customers to display multimedia content and comfortably view attachments, as well as read and edit documents.

The screen, described by Vodafone as ‘ground-breaking’, with its 480 x 360 pixel resolution display switches from portrait mode to landscape mode as the handset is rotated, while automatically changing the format of the keyboard from multi-tap or RIM’s SureType® to full QWERTY.

A wide range of songs and full-length videos can be downloaded and enjoyed with the stunning clarity of the smart phone’s screen and its incredible, high-quality audio.

The BlackBerry Storm retains the full functionality and security features of the BlackBerry platform, but is also ideal for avid Facebook, MySpace and YouTube users, while Flickr fans will love the ease and speed of directly uploading their pictures seconds after taking them.

Customers can access all Vodafone’s entertainment and information services including Vodafone Music, Google Maps, Find&Go navigation and the Vodafone live! portal, while also benefiting from a removable battery and up to 16GB of exchangeable memory.

“With its unique, clickable touchscreen giving access to all the desirable multimedia features and services such as browsing, music and video, turn-by-turn satellite navigation, messaging and social networking, and with BlackBerry’s mobile heritage and strong business reputation, the BlackBerry Storm is being brought by Vodafone into the consumer world,” said Frank Rovekamp, global chief marketing officer, Vodafone Group.

“With Vodafone’s ultra high-speed, reliable mobile network, and this exclusive and exciting new smart phone, there has never been a better time to be with Vodafone.”

The BlackBerry Storm smart phone brings together messaging services including email, SMS and MMS in a single inbox and alerts from social networks. It also comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera with video capabilities that exploit the screen’s stunning clarity to deliver advanced multimedia performance.

The BlackBerry Storm will be available from next month through Vodafone stores, as well as independent outlets and online. Full pricing details will be available in the coming weeks, the company said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: whipping up a storm, the new BlackBerry Storm smart phone

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years